With some last-minute provincial funding coming through, trimming back Collingwood’s 2022 draft budget to a one per cent tax increase wasn’t as difficult as it could have been, says the town’s treasurer.
During Wednesday afternoon’s special strategic initiatives standing committee meeting, treasurer Monica Quinlan presented the town’s second run at the 2022 draft budget, which allots for $116.3 million in total spending between operating ($64.5 million) and capital ($51.8 million) budgets.
On Nov. 5, staff brought a draft of the 2022 budget to council for a strategic initiatives meeting, but councillors opted to send it back to staff without hearing further presentations as it was based on a 2.79 per cent tax increase. Council had asked for a proposed one per cent tax increase.
“Some new information came forward that allowed staff to update the proposed 2022 budget and reduce the tax rate increase,” said Quinlan.
Quinlan pointed to the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund totals coming in at $200 million above what municipalities were expecting, which would help ease the strain at the local level. She also noted that a provincial announcement that vaccine requirements would be lifted in March or April 2022 would mean that staff hired to check vaccinations would no longer be required after that time.
She said these translated to the tax lavy being lowered by about $620,000.
The 2022 draft budget includes $233,033 in staffing requests, which include:
- $80,000 for a communications position to work under the manager of public relations and communications
- $28,233 toward a full-time lifeguard and instructor position (this would be offset by the savings in part-time hours)
- $80,000 to extend the financial analyst contract position for two more years. The position is funded 100 per cent through grants.
- $20,300 for temporary election staff
- $18,000 for the crossing guard program update (minimum 1.5 hour pay per shift, and increase to on-call rate). This was requested by council in 2020.
With the proposed one-per-cent increase, the amount of taxes the town collects in 2022 would be about $36.4 million, which is $1.2 million more than was budgeted for taxation in 2021.
On Wednesday, council voted unanimously in favour of moving toward public consultation of the 2022 draft budget. After public consultation, one more draft will go before council prior to final ratification at the end of December.
An amendment put forward by Coun. Kathy Jeffery to include an increase to councillor compensation expense accounts for training by $1,500 was passed 4-3 with Coun. Steve Berman, Coun. Mariane McLeod and Coun. Bob Madigan opposed.
Deputy Mayor Keith Hull and Coun. Tina Comi were absent from the meeting.
If you’d like to provide your comments or questions on the 2022 draft budget, information on how you can get involved are found here.