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First draft of Collingwood budget proposes 1.78% tax increase

Council meets tomorrow to go over the draft, public comment is invited
2019-02-01-CollingwoodTownHall-EE
Collingwood Town Hall Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

Town staff have prepared the first draft of the 2023 budget with a proposed 1.78 per cent increase in taxes for Collingwood residents. 

The municipal council will be getting a look at the draft budget this week with a meeting set for Nov. 23 at 2 p.m. at town hall for review of the proposal and to receive public comments. 

According to the draft budget published on the town website, the 1.78 per cent tax rate increase includes only "unavoidable increases" built in. It's slightly under last year's increase of two per cent, and represents an increase to the overall taxes collected by the municipality from $36,779,741 to $38,416,934. 

The total town budget proposed for 2023 is $133.7 million, with about a 50-50 split for capital versus operating costs. Taxation is one revenue stream, but not the only one. 

The unavoidable increases mentioned in the budget document refer to items the town is committed to spending, such as: 

  • $1.17M in wage increases (step and merit-based) as well as union contracted amounts, non-union cost-of-living adjustments (2%) and increase in benefits.
  • $302,569 increase for utilities and fuel, largely caused by inflation. The staff report indicates 13.1 per cent increase in fuel costs year-over-year, and 15.2 per cent increase in energy costs. 
  • $250,000 for the continuation of the grain terminals project, which is outlined in a memorandum of understanding with the developer. This is partially funded by savings, so will not all fall on the current taxpayers. 
  • $132,586 increase in insurance rates, credited to inflation. 
  • $118,375 for building and equipment maintenance, including roof repairs for the curling club, OPP storage building and more. 
  • $71,500 for an accessible transit service contract. 
  • $63,840 for the increased cost of salt and sand (also attributed to inflation). 
  • $59,960 for the second phase of an arts centre feasibility study.
  • $47,250 in annual software subscription increases and new customer service software ($37,000). 
  • $40,000 for geo-technical consulting regarding on-site and excess soil management and meeting new requirements by the province. 

Staff have identified some savings in the 2023 budget as well, including $99,578 less toward debentures because of a reduction in payments, $150,000 removed from the 2022 budget originally set aside for a salary grid evaluation that occurred in 2021, and a credit of $300,000 for the town's policing contract costs from 2022.  

According to the draft budget, other efficiencies noted for 2023, include the sale of an old pumper fire truck for $150,000, the money collected from non-residents for parking at waterfront parks has gone back into garbage collection and maintenance at those parks to offset the parks budget, and repurposing part of the curling club instead of building an equipment storage shed cost $150,000 instead of the budgeted $350,000 for a new shed. 

There are more items up for consideration, but not included in the proposed tax increase, including: 

  • $65,000 for a fireworks drone show,
  • $91,000 toward a transit coordinator shared between municipalities,
  • $100,000 for a heritage review,
  • $235,000 toward studies such as a refresh of the community-based strategic plan,
  • $314,000 added to the asset management plan reserve
  • $305,000 toward an urban forestry unit including a full-time arborist, plus seasonal position and equipment and supplies  
  • $50,000 in continued support for the urban economy forum 
  • $27,400 for repainting pavement markings in town 
  • $32,000 for new software for social media monitoring and annual support for website 
  • $236,000 for new staff to enhance service, including combining two seasonal municipal law enforcement officer positions into one full-time position, and an audio/video coordinator to help run virtual meetings and reduce the amount of overtime required of regular staff to run the AV side of meetings. 

A one per cent tax increase in the Collingwood municipal budget equals about $377,000 more taxes collected by the town. 

With everything included, the tax rate hike for 2023 would climb to 5.31 per cent, but those decisions are in the hands of council over the next few weeks. 

You can read the 217-page draft budget document online. Nothing has been approved yet by council and the budget is subject to change over the next few weeks of meetings. 

The Nov. 23 meeting begins at 2 p.m. and there will be a chance for members of the public to make comments. There will also be public meetings, virtual and in-person, coming up Nov. 28.  

For more ways to get involved in the town budget process, visit EngageCollingwood.ca.


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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 13 years of experience as a local journalist
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