The 2020 budget given tentative approval by Council on Tuesday presented challenges because of provincial funding changes in areas such as public health and social services.
“I must say the downloading of costs or reduction in funding from the provincial government has probably made it the most challenging.” said Trevor Wilcox, General Manager of Corporate Performance.
Wilcox did throw the Ford government a little bit of credit, noting the province has listened to feedback in terms of trying to spread those changes over a year or two.
The province announced in August it was going ahead with an overhaul of how public health units are funded, with municipalities picking up 30 per cent of the tab. The Simcoe Musoka District Health Unit presented the County with a 33 per cent budget increase that according to Wilcox was mitigated when the province capped the increase at 10 per cent for 2020.
“So that means the increase directly to the County is $600,000 for this year but the $1.6 million will hit us next year.”
The million the County is saving in 2020 is being tucked into reserves to act as a buffer for other changes that are anticipated, such as in social services.
Overall, the budget contains $530 million in spending. There are major road construction projects in the offing next year including on County Roads 21, 22 and 27, and the County is also assuming 90 per cent ownership of the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport. As well, call volume for paramedics is expected to increase by at least six per cent.
The 2020 budget will go to full council for approval at the November 26th meeting.