THUNDER BAY – The City of Thunder Bay budget process continues.
The proposed 2015 Municipal Budget documents were released today as a starting point for City Council’s review. The proposed 2015 Budget incorporates a 5.68 per cent municipal tax levy increase for existing taxpayers due to several major factors impacting the Budget. Decision package options have also been provided to reduce the tax levy increase to 3.99 per cent.
“This is a year of stabilization for the City Operating Budget,” said Commisso. “The City had anticipated $2.1 million of growth related to new property tax revenue however; recent industrial assessment decisions have negatively affected 2015 Budget revenues along with a $1.5 million reduction in Provincial OMPF funds. Unfortunately we can’t control these revenue sources and we have to deal with the impact of winter weather, legal and insurance fees on our Budget. We are required to table a balanced Budget and our priority areas continue to focus on maintaining essential City services, infrastructure renewal and being a partner in addressing community development and growing social issues. Although the 2015 Budget definitely presents a greater fiscal challenge than in recent years, there is reason to be optimistic as our future assessment growth projections remain strong, particularly in 2016.”
The Budget package to City Council will include two reports:
• R11/2015 – Proposed 2015 Operating and Capital Budget
• R9/2015 – Supplementary Report to 2015 Budget – Proposed Decision Package Options and Recommendations
Recognizing the 2015 proposed municipal tax levy increase for exiting taxpayers is higher than the average annual increase of 2.14 per cent in the previous term of Council; the City Manager is again presenting Budget Decision Packages similar to 2014, for consideration by Council as options to reduce the proposed tax levy increase. A total of four Decision Packages, including two recommendations, are being presented should Council wish to reduce the proposed levy. The City Manager’s recommended packages represent a net budget reduction of $2.8 million, bringing the proposed 2015 municipal tax levy increase to around 3.99 per cent for existing taxpayers. The City Manager is also recommending that as part of the 2015 Tax Policy Report in May, options be presented for mitigating the shift in taxes on to the residential class.
Unlike recent years where significant incremental funding for infrastructure renewal has been included in the Budget, the 2015 Budget is primarily focused on stabilization of the Operating Budget with minimum increase in tax supported capital funding. The 2015 Budget also provides for new collective agreements with a number of employee groups including Police and Fire Rescue.
Major Factors impacting the proposed 2015 Municipal Budget include:
• Operating Budget Stabilization Measures including winter control, legal fees, building permits etc. – $1.8 million
• Ontario Municipal Partnership Funding Reduction – $1.5 million
• TBDSSAB Increase – $0.3 million
• Debenture Payment (Capital Projects) Increase – $0.7 million
• Insurance Premium Increase – $0.3 million
• In addition to the above, Reduction in “real” assessment growth related to 2015 revenues due to uncontrollable industrial assessment decisions – $1.0 million (Note: While this factor does not impact the total levy increase, it does impact the apportionment between existing taxpayers and new property taxes from “real” growth.
City Council’s 2015 detailed Budget review of both the tax- and rate-supported operations begins on Feb.4, and ratification is scheduled to take place on March 2. The proposed 2015 Capital and Operating Budgets are now available online at www.thunderbay.ca/budget and at the Waverley and Brodie Library branches.