The county has crunched the numbers, and in 2019, that number is two per cent.
The 2019 County of Simcoe draft budget was presented to county council on Tuesday, outlining how the county intends to spend its budget in 2019. The proposed tax increase for taxpayers across the county is two per cent, which works out to an increase of $5.70 per $100,000 of MPAC assessment.
“I like the way it went. It was very collaborative,” said newly minted Warden George Cornell after the talks concluded for the day. “It’s important to have a good discussion about the items as it’s a significant budget.”
The total county budget for 2019 is $550 million.
“There’s a significant amount of services we provide to our residents in the county, and it’s important that council takes the time to go through it,” he said.
Cornell points to the 15 new members of county council who sat at the table for this round of talks.
“The budget process allows you to (develop a greater) understanding of the services that are provided here at the county, and the level of services that we provide, the costs associated with that, and the benefits our residents get,” said Cornell.
“There was some good discussion over a few items, but they were able to be accommodated, and now we’re at a point where we’re able to recommend the budget to council on Jan. 22.”
Lively discussion occurred during Tuesday’s meeting about the possibility of adding yard waste collection in the summer months. Previously, there had just been a spring and fall date annually.
At the end of the day, councillors voted to add two additional yard waste pick-up dates in the summer months of 2019, at a cost of $200,000.
During talks Tuesday, some Bradford West Gwillimbury-specific projects were mentioned.
BWG Deputy Mayor James Leduc expressed concerns that plans for County Road 4 were not moving ahead as quickly as he has hoped.
The county has plans to widen County Road 4 from two to four lanes, starting near Line 8 in BWG and working north to County Road 89 and eventually to the south limits of Barrie. The plan also includes added turning lanes, illumination and drainage improvements, including at the intersection with Line 12, where a man died in November when a transport truck slammed into the SUV he was driving.
“This road is scheduled for completion in 2024. I don’t think that road can wait any longer. We’re at maximum travel,” said Leduc.
“Is there any way to move this project up? Why are we waiting so long when we had the environmental assessment in 2012?”
The budget item for County Road 4 for 2019 will complete the design and continue with property purchase for the three-phase project. It will include site preparation and utility relocation in 2019, 2020 and 2021, with road construction to begin in 2021 to be completed in 2024. In this year's budget, $247,000 is set aside for this phase of the project.
“I appreciate that there are a lot of priorities in the county. Unfortunately, a project of that scale takes a number of years. Property acquisition is a big requirement all along County Road 4,” said Debbie Korolnek, general manager of engineering, planning and environment for the County of Simcoe. “That’s probably the thing that holds us up the most because it takes a long time to try to negotiate with the property owners.”
“We’ll do the best we can,” concluded Korolnek. “But realistically, that’s going to be the schedule, and that might even be a little optimistic.”
The town has previously pushed for more work to be done on County Road 4
Other Bradford road projects with county budget lines included the County Road 27/5th Line intersection ($12,000), County Road 53 Slope Stabilization ($1.2 million) and the County Road 88/5th Sideroad intersection ($23,000).
The two per cent tax increase for residents would represent $3.3 million in additional funding for the county coffers.
Barrie and Orillia residents do not pay taxes at the county level, as they are separated cities. Instead, the municipalities allot a specific amount in their own budgets to pay for the use of some county services.
For the separated City of Barrie, its contribution to use some county services (Long Term Care & Seniors Services, Paramedic Services, Children and Community Services, Ontario Works, Social Housing Non-Profit, Simcoe County Housing Corporation, the county museum and archives) comes with a price tag of $22.5 million for 2019, an increase of 9.5 per cent compared to 2018 numbers.
For the separated City of Orillia, its contribution to use county services (Long Term Care & Seniors Services, Paramedic Services, Children and Community Services, Ontario Works, Social Housing Non-Profit and the Simcoe County Housing Corporation) will come with a price tag of $5.6 million for 2019, an increase of 2.5 per cent over 2018.
The draft budget was referred to the Jan. 22 regular council meeting for adoption.
Total county budget ($550 million) breakdown by department
Administrative and Statutory Support - $37 million
Paramedic Services - $73.2 million
Planning and Economic Development - $5.1 million
Social Housing - $90 million
Transportation and Engineering – $68.6 million
Solid Waste Management - $45.9 million
General Municipal Services - $28.1 million
Long Term Care and Seniors Services - $60.1 million
Transit - $7 million
Children and Community Services - $62.3 million
Ontario Works - $72.8 million
- With files from Jenni Dunning