Northumberland County Council Approves 2023 Budget

In City Hall

As one of its first orders of business for the new term, County Council voted today to approve the 2023 Northumberland County Budget. This approval marks the conclusion of a rigorous and transparent review and planning process that began in May of last year and included public engagement and input on services and priorities residents felt were most important.

The approved budget will result in a 6 per cent levy increase, after growth, which includes:

· A base levy increase of 4.9 per cent—below the 5 per cent target set by Council; and

· An increase of 1.1 per cent to the dedicated infrastructure levy, which was introduced in 2016 to address a widening gap in funding for repair, maintenance and development of critical infrastructure.

The total County levy for 2023 amounts to $68.1 million, and makes up ap-proximately 32 per cent of the County’s $213.5 million total budget. The Coun-ty will generate the remaining funds needed through a combination of grants and subsidies from other levels of government, debt and reserves for financing large capital project and initiatives, fees for service and other revenue-generating activities.

“Council understands these are challenging times for residents who are being impacted by economic factors like cost-of-living increases and ongoing recovery from COVID-19,” states Warden Mandy Martin. “In June, County Council directed staff to keep any base levy increase below the inflation rate and, through careful scrutiny and deliberation over the last several months, this has been achieved.”

The overall estimated increase for a median single family detached home in the county is $80.56 in annual property taxation. This estimate is subject to change based on tax policy and information from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporate (MPAC), both of which will be finalized this spring.

Warden Martin acknowledged the significant financial pressures to maintain service levels and programs while keeping affordability for residents front-of-mind. She cited the effects of inflation and interest rates on the cost to deliver County services and impacts to construction projects currently underway or planned. As well, the County is having to offset a reduction in revenues triggered by changing provincial legislation and some provincial funding pro-grams coming to an end.

“I believe we have been able to strike a balance between preserving a sustainable, livable community with quality services residents can depend on each and every day, and the need to ensure responsible long-term financial stewardship,” comments Martin. “We used every tool in the toolkit to find efficiencies and reduce costs without impacting levels of service. And, we continue to leverage economies of scale through innovative and collaborative partnerships.”

Some of the highlights in this year’s budget include:

· Purchase of three new ambulances and support for preliminary work on a joint paramedic/fire Emergency Services Base in Brighton.

· Advancement of the public-private partnership to deliver broadband high-speed internet connectivity to un-serviced and underserviced Northumberland residents.

· Continuation of the Commuter Connect regional transit pilot until September 2023, connecting the communities of Northumberland with each other and with shuttle service to the Oshawa GO station.

· Continuation of major capital projects such as the Golden Plough Lodge long-term care home & Northumberland County Archives and Museum facility, the Elgin Park affordable housing redevelopment in Cobourg, and the Campbellford Bridge.

· Continuation of pre-construction work on the Ontario Street, Cobourg af-fordable housing development in collaboration with partners.

· Doubling of County investments in the homelessness system to support sustained funding levels following conclusion of provincial COVID-19 Social Services Relief Funding.

· 120 kms of road resurfacing and paving throughout the County, along with replacement of Thompson Bridge in Trent Hills and bridge rehabilitation work in Alnwick/Haldimand.

· Funding of $250k for Northumberland Hills and Campbellford Memorial Hospitals for essential capital equipment, as part of a five-year, $1.25 mil-lion investment launched in 2022.

· Introduction of a mattress diversion program at Northumberland Community Recycling Centres, to save landfill space.

Development of the budget began in May 2022, following a rigorous process of development and consultation that enabled staff and Council to stay on track and conclude deliberations today. This process enables approval of the budget early in the year, which supports cost savings by enabling more rapid tendering and procurement of materials and project contracts.

2023 department business plans and budgets, as well as a consolidated County budget, are available on the County website at Northumberland.ca/ Budget.

 

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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