The Grey Highlands began its 2022 budget discussions with a draft budget presentation to council on Nov. 3.
The municipality is proposing an operating and capital budget of $26 million, of which $12.9 million will need to be raised through taxes to maintain current levels of service.
Last year, the municipality collected $12 million in taxes. This year the levy will go up by $900,000, with about $125,000 coming from growth. The remaining $774,004 proposed tax increase equates to a 6.41 per cent tax hike for residents, or about $100 increase on a tax bill for a home valued at $300,000.
The municipality anticipates needing additional funds to meet the requirements of its strategic plan.
“Within the budget as presented there's $1.2 million for council consideration, which isn't factored into those numbers right now,” said CAO Karen Govan.
Despite the potential increase in taxation, Govan pointed out that staff have managed to reduce the municipality’s base budget when compared with previous years.
“In building the budget, staff have taken a comprehensive review of actual historic numbers over the past five years and the current council approved level of service. Base budget reductions have been presented in excess of $300,000,” she said.
Govan stated that the municipality has reason for optimism moving forward.
“We are seeing new businesses opening up in our downtown, and existing businesses are expanding or have found new and innovative ways of continuing their services,” she said. “We are experiencing increased visitors to the area attractions.”
The presentation also noted that 2021 was a record year for building permits, breaking the previous record set in 2020.
Budget deliberations are scheduled to take place through the latter half of November.
Two public open house sessions are scheduled for Nov. 17, with the first taking place from 10 a.m. to noon and the second from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Four meetings are scheduled for budget deliberations on Nov. 22, 24, 29, and 30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m
Council will meet again on Dec. 2 and Dec. 6 to ratify the budget.
All budget deliberations will be held virtually. Click here for the council meeting schedule and virtual links.
Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca