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Budget remains largely unchanged as council continues review process

Reduced levies from DSSAB and Victoria Avenue BIA cut $75,000 from budget, though council opens wallet with $27,000 for library security and $20,000 in additional funding for Boys and Girls Clubs of Thunder Bay.
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THUNDER BAY – Revised levy requests from two outside boards are reducing the proposed city budget by nearly $75,000, though council has reallocated a portion of those savings.

City council on Wednesday night moved one step closer to completing its budget process with its third of four scheduled review meetings with the tax levy increase sitting at 3.6 per cent – or 2.89 per cent after factoring growth.

The Thunder Bay District Social Services Board reported that its weighted assessment for 2018 had lowered the city’s share of the levy by $49,000 from what was originally in the proposed budget.

As well, the Victoria Avenue BIA requested the city decrease its contribution by more than $24,000.

By the end of the night, council had partially offset those reductions by finding $47,000 in new spending.

Coun. Joe Virdiramo proposed adding $27,000 for the Thunder Bay Public Library Board to replace security funding that had been previously provided through the transit capital reserve fund but was cut from the budget this year.

Cherri Braye, the library’s director of resources, said the $27,000 would amount to 1,200 hours of additional security at the Brodie Street Library where there are as many as seven incidents per day requiring either security or police intervention.

“Some of them are so extreme we’ve had threats of violence against our staff, death threats against our staff,” Braye said.

“Multiple incidents of intoxication, people coming in groups completely intoxicated being asked to leave and choosing not to leave, even though they’ve been asked. Staff are afraid, are really afraid of some of the incidents they’ve had to deal with.”

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Thunder Bay was approved to receive a $20,000 to its city provided funding, bringing the organization’s total amount for 2018 up to $120,000.

“We felt it was important to recognize the contributions of the Boys and Girls Club make to delivering services that we don’t have to deliver as a corporation,” Coun. Iain Angus said.

“It’s a good investment on our part because if we weren’t going to do this, we know that over time demand would be there to increase our own staffing.”

Council also approved $354,000 for the replacement of the transit fuel farm and $40,000 for curb and gutter installation along Winnipeg Avenue adjacent to the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium, though funding for those two projects was taken from the general capital reserve fund and do not impact the tax levy.

The stabilization reserve fund was tapped into for $20,000 towards the planned centennial celebration of the end of the First World War scheduled for later this year.

The draft budget prepared by administration started off with a levy increase of 3.61 per cent. The tax levy is the amount of money required to be collected from municipal taxpayers and is not the change to property taxes.

The final budget review meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday.