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Council approves 2024 operating and capital budget

The municipal tax levy is at 5.48 per cent after growth (5.93 before growth) with ratification set for February 12.
Thunder Bay City Hall

THUNDER BAY – Just one more vote stands in the way of the budget becoming a reality.

Following Wednesday’s session, the municipal tax levy is at 5.48 per cent after growth (5.93 per cent before growth) after council approved, in principle, the 2024 operating and capital budget.

McKellar Ward Coun. Brian Hamilton was one of individuals that recommended the 5.5 per cent benchmark to start the process, but feels council missed an opportunity to further reduce the burden on taxpayers.

“I think to some degree the budget is an opportunity to set a tone for future budgets, future spending and community expectations on service delivery. I believe in some ways we missed the mark through this budget process,” Hamilton said following Wednesday’s session.

“We know that there are going to be future financial challenges. Our staff is telling us that for the next three or four years, we're going to have tax levy increases of at least four per cent. We know also that our asset management plan is going to come due in the next year and a half. So, we have to be aware that we have to have a finance plan to manage our assets.”

Hamilton said it costs more to repair deteriorating assets than to maintain them.

"Not funding infrastructure adequately is the proverbial hole in the bucket in our finances. This wouldn’t allow us to do important operational things like focus spending on community wellness, recreation and the things that the community needs, wants and desires," he said.

Budget chair Mark Bentz also discussed balancing financial restraint around the table to shape to the budget.

“You have to use your intuition and values to come up with things that you think are going to help the community,” Bentz said.

“There are limited resources, so some things you have to say no to because you understand it doesn’t benefit the whole community. It is a difficult and long process.”

Thunder Bay Police got the approval of council to increase their budget by $250,000 with councillors Bentz and Rajni Agarwal voting against it.

Neebing Coun. Greg Johnsen was defeated in his request for a re-vote to remove an $18,000 reduction in the budget with relation to Saturday bus service for the Neebing route.

Northwood Coun. Dominic Pasqualino failed to get the support he was looking for to remove the introduction of parking fees at the Marina.

Red River Coun. Michael Zussino put forward a motion to increase adult golf user fees before tax at the city owned courses by the following percentages:

  • 4.55 per cent Season Pass – Adult (36 years to 59 years)
  • 4.83 per cent Season Pass – Intermediate Adult (23-35 years)
  • 6.13 per cent Daily Green Fees

The measure would have also meant an increase of $30,000 in the user fee revenue within the parks & open spaces 2024 budget.

Council voted instead to defer the decision and allow administration time to bring back more details at a future council meeting.


  • Community Safety and Well-Being enhancements budget will increase incrementally by $250,000 beginning in the 2025 budget
  • A reduced transfer of $85,500 to the capital general reserve fund to accommodate the increase in the recreational trails budget that was put forward by Councillor Johnsen on Feb. 1
  • Removing a $150,000 contribution to the Renew Thunder Bay Reserve Fund
  • $30,000 financing of the Community Improvement Plan through other revenue sources

The 2024 operating and capital budget is scheduled to be ratified on Monday, Feb. 12.

Dougall Media will have more on the Thunder Bay Police decision and the golf fees in a separate article.


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