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2014-01-28 at 20:56

Budget options

By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
91.5 CKPRWin Lunch with Danny and Laura for up to 20 people! Enter here to win on Thunder Bays Best Music 91.5 CKPRClick Here!

The city's proposed 2014 tax levy increase is 3.45 per cent for now.

City council has been provided with some suggestions on how to get that number down to 2.76 as it goes through the budget process over the coming weeks but one councillor already has some ideas on how to bring the number down.

"That's a considerable amount," Coun. Rebecca Johnson said of the levy as it stands.

"I certainly think we need, for example, to be out of the daycare business."

Johnson's wonders what the public will think of the levy especially when other costs like hydro, water or even telephone are factored in.

Council was provided with a budget overview and long term financial plan Tuesday night. City manager Tim Commisso said around 1.34 per cent of the proposed levy comes from new growth in the city, meaning the levy is around 2.11 per cent for existing taxpayers.

What that actually means to individual property owners depends on assessments. The levy also includes $2.5 million in the Enhanced Infrastructure Renewal Plan, which would total $9.5 million over the last three years.

"We're making headway," Commisso said of the cost to upkeep $2 billion in city infrastructure.

But the long-term financial plan shows there's still around a $10-million shortfall.

"It takes a lot of money to maintain that in order to not see it fall behind," Commisso said.

The long-term plan also projects $2.5 million in growth next year and $2 million every year until 2019. Commisso said based on building trends the city is seeing, it seems reasonable. And those projections are coming from the city's financial department, which is typically conservative in its estimates.

"It depends on how the economy performs," he said.

A lot of that growth needs to come from the private sector, a trend that seems to be climbing. Around two-thirds of the building permits issues last year were from residential, commercial and a bit of industrial construction.

"That's what you want," Commisso said.

Johnson agreed.

"I would hope that we will see that growth," she said."We can't rely on the public sector all the time. We have to look at the private sector to create that growth."

As for the budget, Commisso said there are more than $1 million in options for council to reduce the proposed tax levy, all in the operating side. Some things can be removed, reduced or deferred if that's the direction council wants to take.

Budget meetings start next Tuesday with a pre-budget public consultation at city hall. It starts at 5:30 p.m.

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Comments

We've improved our comment system.
CM Punk says:
"I would hope that we will see that growth," she said."We can't rely on the public sector all the time. We have to look at the private sector to create that growth."

Mining boom, 50 000 jobs and more people moving here seems to be a pipe dream that is fading and fading very quickly.

Enough with the darn waste.
I am really curious as to what the city debt is. I heard its close to $200 million. Perhaps someone on here can shed some light on that number for me.

TB source is not doing any favors to the city if council expects an apology from LU and the Chamber. I am sure over the next four years taxes will go up more then 8 percent projected.

I need to grab a barf bag because this is making me sick. This is even worse then the poor booking of the Royal Rumble match.
No Sting, no Ultimate Warrior, no Daniel Bryan.
Start a YES movement people.
You are all going to be homeless soon.
1/28/2014 10:36:27 PM
sky high says:
Announcement: Thunder Bay Regional Healthcare announces that there will be an additional 50% more cases of carpal tunnel syndrome from all the excessive cane-shaking going on in the city over trying to improve ourselves.
1/28/2014 11:08:49 PM
Tiredofit says:
Cain shaking must be your new favorite catch phrase sky high. You've used it far to many times this week in various posts.

1/29/2014 6:52:21 AM
sky high says:
I didn't realize this site had a 'follow' option.
1/29/2014 11:05:15 AM
det john kimble says:
"Sky high" literally has his/her head in the clouds on most issues, thus the preconceived and yet oh so appropriate moiniker.
However he/she seems to be an expert on these "cane shakers".
And when any criticism is leveled at the City he/she runs to their defense with as one can see the intellectual ability of a turtle.
Unlike sky high I do not profess to be an expert on these cane wielding folk, but I do believe these people are honest tax paying citizens who have a right to an opinion...
And if that is the case Mr Sky i'll wave a cane any day...
... everyday! :)
1/29/2014 12:49:00 PM
j_northey says:
Y'know, I'd like if people would notice that the Chamber projected 8% PER YEAR not total over 4 years. That is a lot more than the current 2.1% for homeowners.
1/29/2014 2:40:16 PM
tsb says:
Taxes will go up ONE MILLION PER CENT!!! Saving money will be declared ILLEGAL!!! Free lawn sculptures of every native family!!! Four-lane roads to NOWHERE for everyone!!! BEACONSSSSS! *throws taxpayer dollars in mayors face*
1/28/2014 11:25:04 PM
longtimer says:
How stupid do they think ratepayers are?
Tell us what the additional property taxes received due to the increased value of our homes.
THERE SHOULD BE NO TAX INCREASE THIS YEAR.
In fact, our taxes should decrease.
When home values have increased 5 - 30% the past 4 years city revenue receives the tax on the increased amount. Give the ratepayers those numbers and then we can talk.
Don't fudge the numbers just so you can spend more.
And some of you longtime councillors know better, ask these questions of your staff who we pay.
1/28/2014 11:35:10 PM
mikevirtanen1961 says:
Reassessments are revenue-neutral for the municipality; for every property that goes up relative to average, another goes down.

The only way that the city's income is increasing is from new buildings being built.
1/29/2014 1:26:37 PM
Me n My Opinion says:
I think I've about given up getting that concept across. 89 agrees (at this time) on longtimers post, and 1 agree on yours. Frustrating isn't it?
1/29/2014 4:29:17 PM
oldnews says:
Longtimer
You are absolutely correct on no tax increase. As I said yesterday my new assessment on my property went up $49,000 in McKellar Ward. The CEO of the city has the tax roll sheets on every house/street in the city. Produce these sheets to the city aldermen as some are requesting with the old assessment up to 2013, and the new assessment from 2014 up. Numbers do not lie, and the aldermen can see for themselves how high the "real taxes" are for this year. Overnight they are saying now 3.25% increase without talking about the "real increase with the new assessment. This puts me on my 64yr old home at 28.5% this year on increases. The Chamber has it right, and they owe no further replies to number switchers at the City management.
1/29/2014 6:40:17 AM
buzz says:
Oldnews, just so you are aware of how property taxes are calculated, this year there will be a decrease in the millrate charged to take into account the increase in the assessed value of homes. What they are saying is the real dollar value increase on average will be 2.1% so if you were paying 4000/year in property taxes you would now pay 4084. The caveat to this is the 2.1% is the average increase. The millrate will drop by the average increase in the value of residentail properties in the city so if the average increase is 15% this year and your house increased 20% you will pay more than a 2.1% increase. However if your property increased by 10% you will actually pay less then the 2.1% increase. Before making false comments understand how it actually works.
1/29/2014 10:43:23 AM
Chaos says:
What is the tax rate if we city does not debenture for road work?

As I see it Instead of raising taxes higher they are going to borrow $ so we can defer payment to those now attending the daycares they plan to close. Shame on you! My grandchildren should not have to pay for this councils desire to get re-elected.
1/29/2014 7:05:27 AM
yqtyqt says:
Welcome to the world of left wing socialist budget financing. It looks like Council has already adopted the Provincial standards for fiscal policy. Just borrow money & keep spending like drunken sailors (no offence to them) and forget about what the consequences of being in debt up to your eyeballs means for future generations.

Look at the composition of council is. Most are far to the left wing (dippers & libs) and some are further left than that.

Fiscal responsibility is out the window and the spending orgies are still going.
1/29/2014 2:44:17 PM
fastball says:
The reason there's so many "dippers and libs" in the council chambers is because the Cons are still outside, trying to figure out the push/pull doors.
1/29/2014 4:35:53 PM
Tbaylifer 1 says:
If we are going to look at services we provide now that we should get out of, well, do we need to be in the entertainment business? Let's sell the auditorium. Let's reduce the number of councillors. Let's reduce the pay of administrators and the number of them. These are hard times that require hard choices. Will council be willing to make those decisions?
1/29/2014 7:07:40 AM
Curious says:
A good start would be looking at staffing - especially at the top. Our city is too top heavy, yet continue to hire. You can start by cutting the high paid job of the staffer that earns high wages by deciding how to put in bike lanes screwing up our roads. Firing the staffer that designed the rediculous "beautification" of the algoma street waste of money and traffic nightmare..i can go on forever, the number of staff at the transit that sit around waiting for hours until a bus comes in to be cleaned - we pay them to sit around, read, play cards etc in order to do a one hour job here and there. Also, lets set up a warehouse so staff has to sign out items such as cases of garbage bags,paper towels, cleaning supplies, equipment, lawn mowers, snow blowers, computers, refrigerators, picnic tables, and i can go on and on..that would reduce the theft by tens of thousands a year. we are paying for clothing, household supplies, business supplies only to be "traded"for kickbacks.
1/29/2014 8:12:30 AM
mika says:
How about we reduce the sprawl that this city seems so happy embracing...

I keep thinking of some person, during the Event Centre debate, calling Innova Park, "the NEW DOWNTOWN" This was amazingly idiotic...

If you want to continue the sprawl... be prepared to pay high taxes for the additional snow plowing, fixing of roads, waterlines, sewers and so on... while the city is already paying for areas of the city we are abandoning "paying double, if you will"

This article sums it up from Winnipeg's perspective;


1/29/2014 9:14:35 AM
Ricknb says:
A family member works for the city and states that there is SOOOOOO much wasted money, in all of the departments.
Maybe the managers should be running a tighter ship! Time to crack the whip, COMMISSO!
There are savings to be had, all over the city.
1/29/2014 9:31:21 AM
yqtyqt says:
Yep. There's tons of waste.

But it doesn't end with city council. It exists at all government levels.

Ontario's main industry right now is civil servants. Whether they are productive enough or at all needed. Lets just hire more so that our employment stats look good. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of gov't folks doing a damn good job in necessary fields.

But there are plenty of floaters picking up cheques being protected by public sector unions. Many earning ridiculous wages and entitled to platinum benefits and pensions.

How much will Timmy make from his govt pension when he retires? Lots more than most people here will earn in any given year. Most people would be floored by the amount. Multiply this by dozens of municipal senior civil servants & they could easily pay for tax increases for years.

Add the provincial employees and you can understand why we're in trouble.
1/29/2014 3:36:45 PM
fastball says:
There's nothing like taking "I know a guy who works for the city who says..."as gospel. Where I come from it's called second hand gossip.
And didn't we just get rid of an administration a decade or so ago that wanted to get rid of "wasteful spending" in city departments. They spent weeks arguing whether if a city official on out city business charged a meal at 11am - whether it should count as a breakfast (9 dollars allowed) or as a lunch (12 dollars allowed).
Now I have to get two authorizations and three quotes if I have to buy pliers for my job.
Way to go, cost cutters. Nitpickyness taken to the extreme.
1/29/2014 4:40:42 PM
yqtyqt says:
Nitpickyness may not be necessary of government officials would hold themselves accountable.

Let me guess that you're a govt employee.
1/29/2014 4:52:51 PM
fastball says:
I totally understand oversight and accountability, especially when the taxpayers' dollars are involved. But nit-pickery taken to the extreme is no solution to anything. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars did the lawyers ultimately end up after the dust settled on the Santa administration?
But hey, if you want the job to wait around while I get those three quotes and two authorizations to get new pliers or a specialized tool, so be it. If they want me to spend hours filling out expense accounts in such detail, as to whether my 11am meal was an early breakfast or a late lunch....well, I get paid til 5. I can either do my job, or fill out minutia in triplicate. Where's your tax dollar better spent?
1/29/2014 6:01:02 PM
Ricknb says:
The family member works in administration and pays the bills.
1/30/2014 10:25:14 AM
anarnosti says:
i hope one day we will finally get some brains on city counsel...
1/29/2014 11:39:37 AM
fastball says:
Am I mean for finding that post hilarious?
1/29/2014 4:33:12 PM
tudor says:
yqtyqt- I continue to read your constant postings about the fiscal score card of the province. Let me say categorically I am not a fan of their deficit spending over the past few years. I do feel it could have been lower.

What I never read is your criticism of the Canadian Government that has posted five or six consecutive years of deficits.

I am okay criticizing our political leaders. Heaven knows there are a number of topics but in the future can you provide us with less bashing of everything that is not conservative.

I think as a taxpayer who has voted both for Liberals and conservatives, that our federal government cannot stand up and claim to be the fiscal leaders in Canada. They may be a bit better than Ontario but by no means do they get a gold star.
1/29/2014 8:45:43 PM
S Duncan says:
The federal deficit is being paid down faster than was expected. It is calculated to be paid by 2015.

The only reason it wasn't done sooner is the libs and dips cried for stimulus spending. You know that federal money that got wasted at the marina? That was some of it.

of course your local council happily went to the trough to take whatever they could.

The federal Conservatives agreed to stimulus funding under threat of dips and fibs forming a coalition govt which would have forced the stimulus spending on us either way. Conservatives had no choice.

Now today you wonder why we have a deficit and want to blame the Conservatives for it? That's awfully short sighted of you.

Don't worry, the Conservatives will have it all solved by the next election. Just in time to trot out their successful results and just in time to win re-election much to the media's chagrin.
1/30/2014 9:06:33 AM
yqtyqt says:
Well boohoo, I really could care less what you think. To be honest, I rarely read or pay much attention to what you say, because I know it's written with your left wing liberal point of view.

"What I never read is your criticism of the Canadian Government that has posted five or six consecutive years of deficits". You never read it because there are rarely articles written about Federal Finances. Must be because Canada's economy is humming along nicely in spite of the poor performance in Ontario.

"can you provide us with less bashing of everything that is not conservative". So because the truth about the poor economy in Ont hurts you, you would prefer that I divert attention away from the bad news. Sorry, I pick what I comment on.

You state that the "federal government cannot stand up and claim to be the fiscal leaders in Canada". Well that only your unsupported opinion, which isn't shared globally. Canada has a great & enviable record in the industrialized world. Nice try though.
1/30/2014 12:54:59 PM
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