The approved 2021 budget includes six new full-time staff positions including one for a climate change specialist/grant writer
Your tax bill from the Town of Collingwood shouldn’t change much this year.
Earlier this week, council approved the 2021 budget with no tax increase.
The approved budget is higher for 2021 than 2020 thanks to an increase in the number of taxpayers in Collingwood.
The town’s total 2021 budget is $100 million, with about 60 per cent of that allocated to operating costs. Taxation will cover $35.2 million of the town’s total budget.
After adding a two per cent increase to the town’s operating budget, any excess funds from taxation were allocated to renewing capital assets, replenishing depleted reserves, and added to savings.
Mayor Brian Saunderson thanked staff for their work on the budget and for getting it ready for approval before the new year.
“I believe the 2021 budget is responsible and responsive both to the pandemic and to the goals of our residents as identified in the Community Based Strategic Plan and during the budget process,” said Saunderson.
While there were no in-person public meetings this year, the town received comments through its Engage Collingwood online platform, and residents were encouraged to present to council during two virtual committee meetings.
The capital budget refers to projects planned in 2021 and their associated costs. The town’s 2021 capital budget is $38.3 million, with $15 million of that funded by user fees not general taxation.
Among the larger capital projects planned in 2021 is the widening of Mountain Road ($3.2 million), which is being funded through town reserve funds and development charges.
The Minnesota storm sewer repair project is budgeted at $4.1M, all funded by reserves that had been set aside for the repair.
The town will be spending $1.3 million on bus repair for its transit fleet. Of that $935K is funded through a government grant and $340,000 is coming from the town’s reserve funds.
In the transportation budget, the town has allocated $60,000 for subsidizing an accessible, on-demand taxi service.
The Fisher Fieldhouse project remains ongoing with $1M carried forward from the 2020 budget to this year’s.
Similarly, the Sunset Point EnviroPark project is continuing in 2021 with a budget of $1.5M included in the approved budget.
Finally, among the list of projects carried over from 2020 is the Harbourview Splash Pad, which is budgeted at $1.55M, mostly funded by development charges.
The town’s wastewater treatment capital projects include some big-ticket items including a plant expansion ($2.2 million), a reservoir and booster pumping station on Stewart Road ($3.5M), and watermain replacements ($2.1M).
The town has also budgeted $230,000 for electric vehicle charging stations, with $120,000 in funding coming from government grants.
The operating budget: $35 million from tax levy and another $26M from other funding sources (not included in the municipal tax levy) for a total of $61.4 million
The operating budget refers to the money required to run the department for the year and does not include one-time projects such as construction, new equipment or vehicle purchases.
Within the operating budget, the top five budgets include:
- Corporate management: $8.5M ($6.1M from tax levy, and $2.4M from other)
- Collingwood Fire Services $5.1M ($18,500 other, remaining from taxes)
- Ontario Provincial Police $5.6M ($5.4M taxes, and $219,000 other)
- Public Works and Engineering $6.3M ($4.97M taxes and $1.34M other)
- Parks, Recreation and Culture $6.9M ($5.8M taxes and $1.1M other)
The water and wastewater operating budgets are set at $7 million for each department, with the entire budget funded through user fees and not taxes. Similarly, the parking ($513K) and building ($1M) operating budgets are funded by fees and not taxation.
The town’s 2021 budget includes 242.79 full-time equivalent staff, which is up from 233.88 in 2020.
Outside of students and contracts, the town is planning to hire a fleet and facilities capital projects coordinator, an engineering technician, a planning manager, a splashpad operator, a parks operator, and a climate change specialist/grant writer.
The climate change specialist and grant writer is budgeted at $110,000 per year for a three-year pilot and was endorsed by council as an enhancement to the budget. The budget approved by council states this could be one single full-time position or two individuals splitting one full-time position.
Town council hand picked some enhancements for the budget which were deemed optional by staff.
Among those enhancements is $145,000 for traffic calming projects, which is further divided into $100,000 for construction of traffic calming measures and $45,000 for reviews and equipment such as traffic counters and solar speed signs.
Council also voted in favour of using $88,000 from the federal gas tax funding toward making Maple Street a bike priority street. The 2021 budget is to hire a consultant for analysis and concept plans.
Council also agreed to spend $50,000 from the 2020 budget on a feasibility study focused on a multi-functional arts and culture centre.
Finally, the 2021 budget includes $2.5 million being put into tax-supported reserve funds, including $300,000 allocated to the asset sales fund to replace money used in 2020. The asset sales fund is where the town is keeping its earnings from the sale of Collus/Powerstream to Epcor and from the sale of the regional airport.
If you’d like to see the full budget document and further breakdowns and projects, you can view it on the town website here.