Collingwood residents will see a net increase of just 0.58% on their 2015 tax bills, after Council approved the 2015 budget at its meeting Tuesday night.
The budget includes a 2.61% increase on Town’s tax levy. When combined with the estimated County of Simcoe tax rate, and the education decrease, the average residential Collingwood taxpayer could see an increase of only 0.58% on their 2015 property tax bills.
The average residential property, with a property assessed at $269,961, would pay a total of $3,360 in property taxes, or an additional $20.
“Council faced a important task this year, when, as a new Council, we attempted to work towards a budget that didn’t add any additional debt, but also didn’t reduce any services that our residents have come to enjoy and expect,” said Collingwood Mayor Sandra Cooper.
“We were able to achieve that goal, and also add funds to our Capital Asset Levy, which will be an important tool for maintaining our capital assets in a fiscally responsible way in the future. I’m proud to say we were able to do that while keeping the Town’s tax levy increase to 2.61%, which results in a blended rate increase of just 0.58%.”
The 2015 budget process was the introduction to program based budgeting. The budget documents focused on a higher level of information delivery for decision making; examining the objectives and outputs of the municipality’s spending, instead of examining revenues and expenditures line by line. As we progress to the 2016 – 2018 budgets, the process will be further refined.
The development of a Community Based Strategic plan in 2015 will play a key role in developing the 2015 budget documents, as the goals, objectives, and action plans developed through that process will inform the departmental business plans moving forward.
A greater public engagement process was also initiated this year, with the preliminary budget, decision packages and draft budget being posted online and available for the public at Town Hall. A feedback form was provided online, and the public was encouraged to attend the March 28 public meeting. The Town is looking into additional options for 2016, including enhanced online feedback and forums.
The 2015 budget is comprised of $44.2 million in operating expenses, and $23.1 million in capital expenses.
Operating expenses include the costs required to provide services (such as transit, recreation and roads) as well as staffing and administrative costs. The total operating budget is a small increase over 2014 to reflect the additional costs related to inflation.
The capital budget relates to projects and expenses where the benefits can be seen over many years. Facilities, vehicles and parks are all capital expenditures, however the increase to the 2015 capital budget is largely a result of several key projects, including:
- Hume Street reconstruction
- $1.027 million Capital Levy to support the Capital Asset Management Plan
- Highway 26 West repaving.
The Capital Levy of $1.027 million represents approximately two-thirds of the amount recommended to be set aside to fund the Capital Asset Management Plan, which catalogues the municipality’s capital assets, and estimates the amount of money that should be set aside to fund their repair and ultimate replacement.