Orillia Council has approved a 3.58 percent budget increase for next year which will add $44 to the tax bill for every $100,000 worth of assessment.
The increase could be reduced to approximately 3-percent once the savings from the estimated provincial education tax are applied.
“This year’s budget was extremely difficult to swallow. Right off the bat, we were hit with a huge surprise waste collection contract hike to the tune of $1 million. Add to that the financial pressures from provincial downloading, it felt as if we were making decisions with one hand tied behind our backs,” said Mayor Steve Clarke. “Despite being faced with significant external pressures that we have no control over, we cannot lose sight of maintaining our assets and planning for the future of our great city. By keeping this balance in mind and following lengthy and thorough deliberations, we ended up with at a 3.58 percent increase for 2020, which is anticipated to come in lower once the provincial education tax comes into play.”
The City’s operating budget includes a new waste collection contract and rising costs from the County of Simcoe and Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit as a result of provincial downloading and the Ontario Provincial Police contract, which accounts for 1.6% of the tax increase in 2020.
The capital budget, which is funded from the capital tax levy, various reserves and grant funding, focuses on infrastructure improvements, asset management, technology advancements, and sustainability.
Highlights of the 2020 budget include:
- Investments in road infrastructure including Phase 2 of the Front Street Reconstruction Project from Colborne Street East to Laclie Street including Neywash Street, Bleeker Street design and reconstruction, the annual road resurfacing and sidewalk program and doubling the contribution to the Roads Reserve in order to accelerate roads and infrastructure projects in future years.
- Orillia Transit investments, including a smart-pay transit fare system, three new transit shelters, bicycle racks on transit buses, and increased winter maintenance at additional shelters.
- Continued strategic investments in smarter technology including citizen self-service portal infrastructure assessment, upgrading of outdated computer equipment, LED streetlight upgrade and smart lighting controls, and digital entrance signs.
- Servicing the Horne Business Park. This will create 10 hectares of serviced employment lands in order to facilitate future development and business attraction.
- An additional $1.2 million contribution to reserves in 2020. In 2019 Council budgeted $16 million in reserve contributions from the tax levy