Peterborough County 2023 draft budget projects 8% tax levy increase with option to reach 5.7% – Peterborough IG News

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The 2023 draft budget for Peterborough County starts with an eight percent tax levy increase but with several options to drop it.

The county council will meet on 2 February to hear a presentation from staff on the draft budget. An eight percent tax levy increase would equate to about $80 for the average single-family home, or about $30 per $100,000 assessment.

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The county of Peterborough includes the townships of Selwyn, Asphodel-Norwood, Douro-Dummer, Cavan-Monaghan, Havelock-Belmont-Methuen and North Kawartha and the municipality of Trent Lakes.

The comprehensive report cites a total budget of more than $100 million – including $69.8 million (a 4.81 percent increase from 2022) for the operating budget and $32.4 million (a 3.21 percent increase) for capital projects. The total tax levy needed to support both the operating and capital budgets is $54.8 million – or about $4 million through 2022.

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The major contributors to the operating budget boost were salary and benefits ($36 million), increases in contracted services (mainly due to fuel costs) and reductions in provincial grants, the draft report said.

The report said that the “enduring effects” of inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic are affecting the 2023 operational and financial outlook.

“High inflation has affected the county,” the draft report said. “Recent purchase awards are exceeding 2022 budget forecasts. Inflation, supply chain disruptions and labor shortages are all increasing pressure on county operations, and the 2023 proposed budget has been adjusted to reflect current market conditions.

To reduce the initial eight per cent tax levy, staff have provided a number of options for council to consider, when combined the tax levy will be reduced to 5.72 per cent.

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One option is to use “Safe Restart” funding from the province that was allocated to help municipalities during the pandemic. The draft budget states that the county has an uncommitted fund balance of $220,000.

Staff suggested the money could be used again in 2023 to offset the tax levy effect of the provincial Crime Act budget of $220,297. But staffers caution that if provincial crime revenue does not return to pre-pandemic levels, the results will create pressure on the 2024 budget. Will reduce the increase in the poll tax levy by 0.43 percentage points.

Another option is to use the more than $309,000 of uncommitted funds from the 2020 surplus to reduce the impact of taxing the 2023 capital and budget on many projects. The result would reduce the impact of the tax levy by 0.61 percentage points, the report notes.

Another option to reduce the tax levy to 1.24 percent is to use the uncommitted $7.1 million from the county’s “working fund” to fund the two remaining tax levy projects that are not road/structure related: a landfill land reclamation project and a Peterborough County-City Paramedics Secure Narcotics.

Staff say the three other options they do not recommend are further use of reserves, use of debt, or a wider operating shortfall.

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