BRUCE COUNTY – County council had its first look at the 2022 draft budget, along with projections for 2022-2026, during the Oct. 14 corporate services meeting.
As is usually the case, this initial budget came in at a higher rate than will probably be the case with the final version. Last year’s initial budget showed an 11.73 increase; after revisions, it ended up coming in at 2.82 per cent, explained Edward Henley, director of corporate services.
Last year’s projection for 2022 indicated a 4.95 budget increase.
The budget will receive further discussion on Oct. 21. Final adoption of the 2022 budget is expected on Dec. 2.
Bruce County uses a five-year budget in an effort to “flatten” long-term levy increases and maintain services. However, only the 2022 budget will be approved by council.
A one per cent levy increase amounts to $522,410.
A number of items are influencing this year’s budget: benefits rates increase, pay equity expenditures, new full-time positions, loan repayments including the amount set aside for COVID relief, planning application revenues, cost of cyber security, and salaries and benefits. These items alone amount to a 4.86 per cent budget increase.
Another factor that must be looked at is grant funding. The Gas Tax funding is ending in 2023. OCIF (Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund) money also comes with a question mark; it’s been assumed at $660,950 for 2022, and zero after that, but if it’s not received this year, the capital budget will have to be adjusted accordingly.
In addition, certain assumptions have been made regarding COVID funding from the province.
While proposed expenses in this draft budget increased slightly for 2022, revenues are expected to decrease significantly due to reductions in federal and provincial funding, creating a proposed 4.80 per cent increase in tax rates.
This $123.5 million draft budget, consisting of $99.5 million in operating expenses and $24 million in capital expenses, will allow infrastructure improvements, family and housing supports, emergency paramedic services, economic development, and library and museum programming.
Among the key projects for 2022 are the Teeswater Bridge in Paisley, the new paramedic station in Saugeen Shores, increased cyber security, work on measures to slow down traffic, and the library bookmobile.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times