Council Approves 2024 Budget Focused on Infrastructure, Maintaining Services, and Preparing for the Future

In City Hall

At their regular Council meeting on December 5, Municipality of Port Hope Council voted unanimously to approve the 2024 budget.

“Budget development is an intricate process and a delicate balance to address the public service needs of residents and guide decisions on municipal infrastructure,” states Mayor Olena Hankivsky.

“The challenge lies in delivering a broad spectrum of services while facing significant inflationary pressures, climate change impacts, soaring interest rates, slow community growth, and limitations in revenue generation.

Additionally, we have attentively listened to the concerns voiced by our residents, recognizing the prevailing conditions in our community. It is evident that our residents grapple with challenges such as housing and food insecurity, with many navigating life on a fixed income. These pressing concerns significantly influence our decision-making process. In this environment, our commitment remains steadfast to constructing a budget that not only addresses the immediate needs of our community but also contributes to our long-term financial planning. This budget is a testament to our dedication to fulfilling infrastructure requirements, maintaining services, and preparing for the future. We affirm our commitment to making fiscally responsible decisions that
benefit our community as we navigate the complexities of budgetary considerations.”

Key investments
• $4.2 million in strategic community initiatives, including economic development strategic plan implementation, community improvement plan investment, tree planting and maintenance, and community safety.

• $16.6 million in other capital projects, including Walton Street reconstruction, the rural roads resurfacing program, recreation facility maintenance, and municipal fleet replacements.

• Investments in our parks, including Kings Field upgrades and new replacement playground equipment in Hewson and Rapley parks.

• Funding for climate resiliency initiatives including flood plain mapping and a sub- watershed study.

• Support for housing initiatives and facility needs for our growing and changing community.

Budget challenges
The budget review and deliberation process presented Council with two primary financial challenges. First, the Municipality’s previous underinvestment in infrastructure requires a considerable increase in funding to support sustainable operations. Second, escalating market prices impact various budget components, including costs for materials, personnel, fuel, and equipment. Managing inflation proves especially challenging for infrastructure, where costs experience a more pronounced increase compared to routine daily expenses.

During the meeting, Council introduced an amendment to reduce the levy impact to the taxpayer to below 7%. This adjustment reflects a careful consideration of residents’ concerns and a commitment to striking a balance between addressing financial challenges and respecting the community’s economic constraints.

Total budget and levy impact
The 2024 budget reflects a total municipal levy of $28 million, constituting approximately 44% of the Municipality’s overall $63 million budget. This translates to an estimated $305 or a 6.9% increase to the property tax bill for the typical homeowner based on MPAC’s assessed property value. Please note that this increase represents the estimated local municipal portion of your tax bill and is subject to change based on impact from Northumberland County and the education boards.

To secure the additional funds needed for the budget, the Municipality plans to leverage a mix of grants and subsidies from higher levels of government, the utilization of reserves to fund substantial capital projects and initiatives, apply fees for services, and engage in various revenue-generating activities.

Community engagement
The involvement of the community in the budgetary process extended over several months, encompassing diverse initiatives. This included public presentations highlighting budget plans, in-person community engagement sessions specifically focused on the budget, and the administration of a public survey. The survey aimed to collect valuable feedback and observations from the community, shedding light on service delivery and priorities for budget spending.

To ensure transparency and accessibility, comprehensive budget information and reports have been available on myporthope.ca since mid-November. This accessible platform serves as a resource for residents to stay informed about budgetary developments and gain insights into the allocation of resources in their community.

Additional communications dedicated to highlighting the adoption of the Municipal Budget will continue throughout the coming weeks and months on the municipal website, social media, and eNewsletters. The final budget documents are available at porthope.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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