North Bay has the cash to slash the projected tax levy - Anthony

Share Adjust Comment Print

Coun. Mike Anthony wants council to look at using the extra $2 million it brought in last year to slash this year’s projected tax levy increase.

First, I respect the deputy mayor’s hard work on the budget as we have four budget meetings scheduled this week alone, yet obviously I’ll want to explore every possible way to shrink that 7.93%,” he said Monday.

I plan to explore if we can change the way we view the budget process or our overall philosophy.”

Anthony said most North Bay residents do not realize that in the past few years the city took in more than $2 million it didn’t need to use.

In 2015 we had a surplus of $670,000, in 2017 we had a surplus of $429,000 and in 2018 there was an unexpected surplus of $920,000. That adds up to over $2,000,000 we took in that wasn’t used or needed,” he said.

Of course, surpluses can go to reserves, to be used for a rainy day, and there’s no question reserves are really important. But keep in mind we are ahead of what we need in reserves.”

Anthony said last June, BDO’s auditor Dean Decaire gave council an update and said a city North Bay’s size should have a minimum of $50 million in reserves.

Currently, we have $14 million more than that, $64 million in reserves,” he said.

I had asked our auditor in public could we use some of that to stabilize taxes and still be ahead of the minimum recommended reserve level. And Decaire’s answer was “yes.” So I’d like to explore if we could do something different there?”

Budget chief and deputy mayor Tanya Vrebosch told The Nugget last month the city needs to approve a tax levy of nearly eight per cent if residents want to continue receiving the same level of services while making new investments in growth and much-needed infrastructure.

She said it will not be a popular proposal. However, city politicians have relied on stopgap measures and quick fixes in order to keep tax increases to a minimum.

Vrebosch said if tax hikes would have been approved in the past of three or four per cent the city likely would be looking at a much more moderate increase.

That funding to, at least partially, meet the requests of groups including Invest North Bay, Creative Industries, the Family Physician Recruitment Program and the Dionne Quints Museum.

It also includes more money – about $1 million – to support capital projects such as the redevelopment of Cassellholme, as well as operating dollars for a new splash pad and the hiring of an integrity commissioner, deputy clerk, economic development officer, communications and bylaw enforcement officers.

In addition, Vrebosch says the city is budgeting for a $500,000 cut to its Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund allocation, noting there’s concern among municipalities across the province reductions may be coming.

Comments