THUNDER BAY – Just one more night to go in the process of shaping the 2024 operating and capital budget.
Ratification of the budget is on the agenda Monday night as council tries to pass the over $537-million budget with the municipal tax levy at 5.48 per cent after growth and 5.93 per cent before growth.
City treasurer Keri Greaves explained in an email to Dougall Media that the term “growth” represents the net additional tax revenue generated from changes to the assessment base in the city.
“Tax levy after growth is an important concept as positive growth reduces the tax burden on existing taxpayers,” Greaves said.
“In a simple example, if there is positive growth and no change in the tax levy, current taxpayers would see a decrease in their property tax bill because the new assessment is now paying for a portion of the tax levy. It’s also important to note that assessment growth does not result in additional income for the city. It just redistributes the tax burden among taxpayers.”
What you ultimately pay is based on the amount of the tax levy and your property assessment value, which is determined by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.
Greaves noted that through the course of budget deliberations, council added $163,800 to the gross operating expenditure budget and reduced the capital expenditure budget by $993,800.
Operating budget - $389,945,000
Capital budget - $78,899,000
Total tax supported - $468,844,000
Operating budget - $43,749,700
Capital budget - $24,838,100
Total rate supported - $68,587,800
Northwood Coun. Dominic Pasqualino was cautious to speak for others, but said he doesn’t have anything new to bring to the table that would impact proceedings.
“I am new to the process but I did bring forward a potential change,” Pasqualino said following the Feb. 7 meeting.
He proposed not moving forward with paid parking at the Marina, which failed to receive support.
“I really didn't think it was going to pass because the other councillors don't agree with me. But I think it was important to at least give it a chance.”
“There are some councillors around the table who I think are well ingrained in their thinking. There are others who are more susceptible to influences one way or the other. I'm not saying one approach is better than the other. I'm just trying to be as best as I can to do my job to represent my constituents.”
Budget chair Mark Bentz agrees that he doesn’t foresee any major issues coming forward on ratification night.
McKellar Ward Coun. Brian Hamilton anticipates that the night will go smoothly.
“The chair and clerk's office really designed this process to be efficient, and I think to that end, we've had a lot of great robust conversations over the last couple of weeks,” Hamilton said.
“The challenges will begin in terms of spending for construction and other issues that pop up that we might not be ready for, like what occurred with the James Whalen Tug. It's important to be ready and resilient to the challenges of the future.”
NOTABLE BUDGET RELATED CHANGES:
- $250,000 increase to the Thunder Bay Police Service budget to cover criminal records checks
- A reduced transfer of $85,500 to the capital general reserve fund
- Removing a $150,000 contribution to the Renew Thunder Bay Reserve Fund
- $30,000 financing of the Community Improvement Plan through other revenue sources
- Three curbside leaf and yard waste pick up days, saving the city $85,000
- An increase to the recreation trails budget by $85,500
- Using concrete instead of asphalt for repairs on sidewalks, which staff reported would have saved the city $40,000
- $504,000 increase in Waterworks Revenues Budget
- $50,000 savings by removing the Planning Services Heritage Grant Program
- Bringing back Christmas Day bus service beginning in 2024 at a cost of $42,500
- All but $200,000 allocated for repairs to the Victoriaville parkade delayed until 2025
- $25,000 added to the Recreation & Culture Division of the budget; $15,000 two movie nights, $10,000 for neighbourhood programming
- $18,700 decrease in the Community, Youth and Cultural Funding within the Tax Supported Operating Budget
- $50,600 increase in revenues for the Parking Authority Operating Budget
- $27,900 increase in expenses in the Parking Authority Operating Budget
- $85,000 transfer from the Stabilization Reserve to support the city manager recruitment expenditure
The 2024 operating and capital budget is scheduled to be ratified at tonight's meeting.
Budget figures courtesy of treasurer Keri Greaves.