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Update: Revised municipal tax levy sitting at 5.47%

By CJ Goater Feb 2, 2024 | 2:44 PM

Thunder Bay City Council - Acadia Broadcasting File

Thunder Bay’s 2024 budget review resumed at the Thursday evening city council meeting.

Budget review began on Tuesday with city council making their first changes to the proposed budget.

The total financial impact of the changes during night one of council review resulted in a decrease of 0.17% to the municipal tax levy, and a revised municipal tax levy before growth, of 5.92%. With the revised 2023 growth factor included, the municipal tax levy increase, after growth, is now sitting at 5.48%.

Thursday’s meeting also provided a host of changes which resulted in the levy moving. As of the end of Thursday’s meeting, the levy is 5.91% before growth & 5.47% after growth.

Changes impacting the municipal tax levy:

The proposed budget included a service level expansion for the curbside leaf and yard waste pickup. The expansion proposes to increase the annual collection events from two to four with a net budget increase of $170,000.

Councillor Michael Zussino felt that two additional pick-ups were not required and wanted council to consider the removal of this expansion from the budget. He recommended that the Curbside Leaf and Yard Waste Program service level expansion in the amount of $170,000 be removed from the proposed budget.

This amendment would have resulted in a decrease to the municipal tax levy of 0.08%.

Councillor Brian Hamilton thought the complete cut of the expansion was too much and proposed an increase of one pickup instead of two which passed.

Ultimately $85,000 was removed from the proposed budget, decreasing the municipal tax levy by 0.04%

The proposed budget for multi-use trail maintenance, expansion, and reconstruction cost in the 2024 proposed budget was $339,500.

Councillor Greg Johnsen asked council to consider increasing this project budget by 25%, for a total capital budget of $425,000, to be used under the guiding principles of the Active Transportation Plan for general trail connectivity.

This was approved by council and resulted in a $85,500 increase in the proposed 2024 budget. The amendment increased the municipal tax levy by 0.04%.

The Planning Services Heritage Grant Program capital request has been removed from the 2024 budget by council cancelling the program.

The change resulted in a decrease of $50,000 to net capital financed by the tax levy.

This amendment resulted in a decrease in the municipal tax levy of 0.02%

All the changes mentioned above were planned before the meeting and were included in the agenda. One change was proposed and passed during the meeting that was not planned.

Sidewalks were set to transition to asphalt instead of concrete for repairs to help meet council’s budget direction of a max levy increase of 5.5%. The change would have resulted in a gross and net budget impact of $40,000 being removed from the roads budget creating more savings.

Ultimately, council decided to forgo the change and opted to continue using concrete for repairs for aesthetic purposes.

Changes not impacting the levy:

Waterworks Revenues, within the Rate Supported Operating Budget, was increased by $504,000, with a contribution to the Waterworks Reserve Fund resulting in $0 net income. This amendment did not result in a change to the municipal tax levy.

Thunder Bay Fire Rescue User Fees had a clerical error in the budget for residential burning permits. The 2024 user fee schedule should reflect a revised user fee of $40 per Residential Burning Permit. The financial impact of the proposed change to revenue for Thunder Bay Fire Rescue is correctly accounted for in the 2024 proposed budget.

This amendment resulted in no change to the municipal tax levy.

The Parks & Open Spaces User Fees also had a clerical error for Picnic Table Deliveries. The 2024 user fee schedule should have reflected a revised wording that a user fee for Picnic Table Deliveries will apply for all events on streets and in Parks (excluding City events), (includes up to 8 tables, 4 garbage cans, and 4 barricades).

The financial impact of the change for Parks & Open Spaces is now correctly accounted for in the 2024 proposed budget, and the amendment did not result in a change to the municipal tax levy.

Council is set to continue budget review on Monday, February, 5.