2023 Budget Meetings Start Friday
By John Swartz
Orillia council starts the 2023 budget committee deliberations Friday, February 3 at 1 p.m. Previous councils realized having budget meetings in the New Year put them behind other municipalities when it came to issuing and awarding tenders for capital projects.
What happens is companies want to fill their schedules for the year and in order to ensure work tune their tenders more closely resulting in lower prices for communities who issue tenders first. The later a municipality issues tenders the more likely projects will cost more.
Budget meetings were changed two council terms ago to late November and early December so they could adopt a new budget in January instead of February or March. Being a new council, they do not have this case because no council wants to dive into a budget process just after being elected.
This presents a situation where the first year of a council term will have budget meetings to start the year, and then meetings to set the next year’s budget at close the year. This council is not changing the pattern.
The main thing property tax payers want to know is if, and how much, their taxes will go up (or down). The budget proposed shows a 2.5% increase. This amounts to a $32 per $100,000 of residential property assessment.
Considering inflation rates and Mayor Don McIsaac’s post-election comment taxpayers could be facing a 5 to 6% increase because of inflation and the effects of the province’s Bill 23, this is as good as news can get.
That said, the combined operating and capital budgets if adopted without change will increase from $66.9 million to $70.1 million, or 4.7%. Part of the difference between budget increases and what may show up on your tax bill is the tax base revenue in 2022 increases by $1.4 million in 2023 (new properties added) and revenue from other sources.
However, staff say of 10 factors affecting the budget relating to Bill 23, they can only estimate 4 of them because ether is no information to judge the others. They show Bill 23 will cost property taxpayers $2.8 million in 2023, in effect subsidizing new development. Obviously as more factors become known there will be an effect on finances.
One area council has little control over is the cost of policing (going up 1.2%, or approximately $100,000) and what the County charges for services (long term care, paramedics, Ontario Works, Children’s and Community Services, and social housing), those are going up 11.3%.
On the capital side of the budget, 72 projects are proposed totalling $30.8 million. Not all of that will be part of your tax bill for 2023. Some of it has been collected over the years and parked in reserve funds (45%), some projects will get grant money for the province and/or the federal government (11%), some projects (Laclie Street and Centennial Drive reconstruction) will be debt financed and some of it will come from development charges (9%).
Other than the roads mentioned, capital projects scheduled for 2023 include repairs to Rotary Place (roof and other items), Bayveiw pumping station upgrades, Centennial Park boat launch parking lot reconstruction, Transit and fleet replacements, reconstruction of Matchedash Street (Elgin to Colborne Streets) and Tecumseth Streets (Laclie to Centennial Drive), and the road repaving program (Memorial from United Drive to Woodland Avenue, and part of Barrie Road).
Your water bill is likely to go up. Staff recommend a 2.03% increase to the gross amount of user fees and service charges for water; an increase of 2.24% for waste water charges; and a 78.5% increase for storm water charges. A breakdown of what that looks like on a typical water bill could not be located in the budget documents.
Information regarding 2022 budget results is not included this year. The City has run surpluses for several years and normally there is a motion to direct those funds into reserves.
The rest of the budget meeting schedule is February 6 agencies, boards and committees make their pitches at 9 a.m.; then council goes over the operating budget line by line starting at 1 p.m. February 6 and all day the 7th; the capital budget gets scrutiny project by project February 15 and 16 with all day meetings starting at 9 a.m.
You can attend council meetings, or watch them live on Youtube.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)
Support Independent Journalism