Grey Highlands draft budget proposes a 14.8 per tax increase in 2021

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The Municipality of Grey Highlands has released its initial draft budget for 2021, which outlines a 14.8 per cent increase to the tax levy.

“If the levy were to increase by 14.8 per cent, the impact to a home valued at $300,000 is approximately $238,” said Anna McCarthy, treasurer for Grey Highlands during a presentation of the 2021 draft budget to council members at a council meeting held on Wednesday.

The summary of levy drivers and major impacts to the budget include:

Mandatory and previously endorsed items include transfers to the asset management reserve, an increase to environmental curbside contracts, a decrease in policing contract costs and increase to municipal liability insurance.

One-time budget items account for the reversal of one-time amounts from the 2020 budget and contributions to the CIP Residential Development Charge Grant Program.

Annualization and inflation impacts are, “a result of price increases or decreases or reallocation of amounts between various departments or categories,” McCarthy stated.

“The total increase to the base-budget before taking form requests or capital into account is $680,000 or 5.8 per cent,” McCarthy continued. “Additional operating form requests total $504,000 or 4.3 per cent and a capital increase of $550,000 or 4.7 per cent.”

Capital budget items include: fire station tablets; a weigh scale at the Osprey landfill; downtown and hamlet revitalization; library pavilions; replacement of a snowplow; fire tanker; transfer to reserve for future purchase of a new pumper; Flesherton sewer pumping station repair, and over $2.6 million for road projects.

“There were various assumptions made when preparing the draft budget including the following: to reflect all prior decisions and direction provided by council in the draft budget; the strategic plan; the asset management plan; the development charges study; and the COVID business recovery plan,” stated McCarthy.

A full outline of the 2021 draft budget can be found in Grey Highlands Staff Report FIN.20.25.

According to McCarthy, all COVID-19 financial implications have been managed through the federal-provincial Safe Restart Grant program.

“Any anticipated financial COVID-19 impacts were to be captured in the one-time column of the operating budget and are offset by a transfer from the Safe Restart Grant Reserves so that the impact to the levy is zero,” McCarthy said.

A revised draft budget will be presented to council at the committee of the whole deliberations scheduled for Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and Dec. 7.

Currently, the tentative date for Grey Highlands council to approve the 2021 budget is Dec. 16.

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Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,