Preliminary Tay budget shows 4.49% tax hike for 2024

Tay residents were treated to their first look at the 2024 draft budget for the township during a recent special meeting of council, which began targeting a 5% or less tax-rate increase before the day started.

As treasurer Emmie Carlson had introduced in the morning meeting, proposed increases of 4.6% per cent to the municipal tax rate and 3.91% to policing were calculated which would result in a 4.49% total Tay Township tax rate increase for the upcoming budget.

The proposed blended tax rate increase for residential properties was calculated as 3.71%, due to the confirmed 3.8% increase for Simcoe County and no increase for the school board.

To fund the township, roughly $11.7 million total would be required from taxation ($9.8 million from Tay Township, and $1.8 million from the municipality for policing); as proposed, it would be a $685,000 increase from last year.

However, those numbers would change as the meeting progressed.

Council members were shown four budget presentations at the start of the day.

Georgian Bay General Hospital Foundation members shared the north Simcoe hospital’s equipment priorities for the upcoming year, including patient beds at a cost of $540,000, an automated urinalysis machine for $128,000, and automated medication dispensing systems at $82,000; an additional greater-than-$100-million hospital building was mentioned as requiring funds over the next decade.

Georgian Bay Forever requested $15,000 from council in their annual effort to combat invasive phragmites; Culture Alliance in the Heart of Georgian Bay requested $12,500 as an increase to offset the retraction of Beausoleil First Nation from the original five-municipality starting line-up; and Severn Sound Environmental Association requested an overall $150,000 amount for their upcoming joint municipal service board goals.

The day was mostly an introduction to various operation and capital costs within the draft budget for the municipality, but Carlson told council that they had the opportunity to informally approve, decline or discuss the presentations at their discretion; those adjusted numbers would be reflected in the next draft budget document.

Deputy Mayor Barry Norris floated the suggestion that staff find a way to contribute $250,000 (as $100,000 plus an annual $25,000 contribution) over the next two years for the MRI machine.

“The benefits outweigh everything,” he said, supporting local usage over the cost and anxiety of residents travelling to nearby cities for health facilities.

The duplication of services by the SSEA and Georgian Bay Forever caused council members to discuss whether township dollars were being properly attributed for the return on investment.

As the spread of invasive phragmites could only be mitigated manually off the municipally-owned shores of the township and not the private properties or western municipalities who would leave it untreated, Norris additionally offered that Tay push the provincial and federal governments to deal with it as they had with the Highway 400 corridor between Parry Sound and Barrie.

A request from the Economic Development Corporation of North Simcoe was declined, as was a request from the Southern Georgian Bay Air Boat Rescue.

Expansion of the Victoria Harbour Wastewater Treatment Plant for $817,000 through an Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund grant was approved by council, as they directed staff to look at suggested changes in the meeting for the second draft budget at a special council marked for mid-March.

The first 2024 draft budget, including presentations and preliminary operating and capital budgets with summaries, can be found in the agenda page on the Tay Township website.

Tay council meets for committee of the whole meetings every second Wednesday of the month, and regular council meetings every fourth Wednesday of the month. Archives and livestreams of council meetings are available through the Tay Township YouTube channel.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca