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Update: Revised municipal tax levy sitting at 5.49%

By CJ Goater Feb 6, 2024 | 1:08 PM

Thunder Bay City Council - Acadia Broadcasting File

After another round of budget reviews the before-growth municipal tax levy is sitting at 5.93 per cent and the after-growth is sitting at 5.49 per cent.

The meeting saw a few changes that will benefit the public like the return of Movie Nights in the park, and the Christmas Day bus service.

Changes affecting the municipal tax levy:

When the proposed budget was prepared the Community Youth & Cultural Funding Program had not completed its appeal process. To correct this issue in the budget council approved a decrease in funding within the tax-supported operating budget for the Community, Youth and Cultural Funding by $18,700.

The impact of this amendment decreases the municipal tax levy by 0.01%.

Movie nights in the park are returning following council’s approval at budget review.

“There were several service reductions made that I felt were contrary to several of City Council’s strategic goals, namely community safety and well-being,” said councillor Brian Hamilton. “The Movie Nights in the Park program has been wildly successful for the years it’s been implemented, serving hundreds if not thousands of families. In addition to providing free neighbourhood programming for residents, it brings people together in a positive, pro-social and inclusive way.”

In addition to movie nights in the park, council is reintroducing the neighbourhood youth bicycle program in this year’s budget.

$15,000 has been added to the Recreation & Culture Division budget to be used towards providing a minimum of two Movie Nights as part of existing neighbourhood-based programming, and $10,000 is being added to the Recreation & Culture Division budget to be used towards neighbourhood programming, including a Bike Program to address transportation barriers for low-income youth, families and newcomers in priority neighbourhoods.

This amendment increased the municipal tax levy by 0.01%.

Changes that did not affect the municipal tax levy:

On January 8, 2024, City Manager Gale announced his planned retirement in June of 2024. At council’s direction, a thorough recruitment process will be conducted in 2024 for the City Manager position at an estimated cost of $85,000. As this would be a one-time expense, the proposed source of financing is the Stabilization Reserve.

Council has approved an increase of $85,000 within the Tax Supported Operating Budget for Corporate Human Relations Expenditures,  and that up to $85,000 be transferred from the Stabilization Reserve to support the City Manager recruitment expenditure.

This amendment would result in no change to the municipal tax levy.

A revision of the 2024 Parking Authority budget was required to reflect an amended resolution for the Parking Financial Plan as passed by Committee of the Whole on January 22, 2024.

Between internal budget submission deadlines and the completion of the Parking Financial Plan, there were revisions made to projections which represent an increase of $178,000 in revenues and a corresponding $30,900 increase in expenses.

Amendments made when the plan was presented to council represent a decrease of $127,400 in revenues and a decrease of $3,000 in expenses compared with the figures presented at that time.

The combined impact of these revisions represents an increase of $50,600 in revenue and a $27,900 increase in expenses as compared to the 2024 Budget submission. The impact of this change represents an increase of $22,700 to the budgeted Parking Authority surplus and contribution to the Parking Authority Reserve Fund.

Amendments were also made to the Parking Financial Plan including the revision of some proposed 2024 user fees. The changes included a reduction of the hourly daytime rate for Marina Parking spaces excluding the Market Square lot and the phase-in of the planned increase to the monthly rates for the parkades.

The deferral of the proposed closure of the Crooks parking lot also represents a portion of the change in the budgeted 2024 revenues.

To support frequent Marina Park users including boaters administration is in the process of developing an alternative fee structure or user passes to propose to COW in the spring and before the June 1 implementation of the new rates.

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

Victoria Parkade Repairs were budgeted at $1,229,000.30 heading into Monday night’s review meeting, but an in-session amendment saw council shift all but $200k of the funding to 2025, to give council a chance to debate the future of the parkade. The remaining funds will be utilized for urgent and required repairs that may pop up throughout the year.

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

The last night of budget review is set to get underway Wednesday afternoon, before the budget is ratified on Monday, February 12.