Orillia Council Approves 2023 Budget


Bill 23 impacts and County contract increase account for almost 2% of levy increase

While balancing the financial impacts of historically high inflation rates, effects of the Province’s Bill 23, and service contract pressures, Orillia Council approved a 2023 budget with a 2.79 per cent tax rate increase at its Special Council meeting on Feb. 27, 2023.

“This was the first budget for our Council term and despite being faced with significant economic pressures such as record-high inflation rates, Council was able to deliver a 2023 budget with a 2.79 per cent tax rate increase. This is a fiscally responsible budget that focuses on the priorities identified by our community including a substantial investment of $15 million in roads and sidewalks, funding for the Orillia Overnight Warming Centre, investments in climate change action and funding to support housing affordability such as creating a new housing coordinator position,” said Mayor Don McIsaac. “We are anticipating significant impacts from Bill 23 of about $12 million over the next five years. Through the 2023 budget process, we have set aside $1 million to help mitigate the burden that has been placed on Orillia taxpayers by the Province to pay for growth due to this new legislation.”

The City’s $70.3 million net operating budget includes the City’s $8.8 million health and social services contract with the County of Simcoe, the $8.7 million Ontario Provincial Police contract, investments in asset management, climate change, and additional resources to support growth.

Council also approved funding to community agencies such as Information Orillia, the Lighthouse, the Mariposa Folk Foundation, Orillia and Area Physician Recruitment, and Sustainable Orillia to assist with their programming.

The City’s $33.6 million capital budget, which is funded from various reserves, debt and grant funding, focuses on Council’s priorities, including residents’ experiences through increased investment in road and sidewalk infrastructure – including doubling the investment of the annual capital roads and sidewalk programs; enhanced customer service opportunities; maintaining parks, culture and recreation facilities; and planning for a sustainable future.

Highlights of the 2023 budget include:

  1. Laclie Street Reconstruction Project Phase 1 in the amount of $6.8 million.
  2. Phase 3 Centennial Drive Area Improvements in the amount of $2.65 million.
  3. Annual Road Resurfacing Program in the amount of $2.1 million.
  4. Annual Sidewalk Program in the amount of $1 million.
  5. $570,000 for Orillia City Centre Council Chamber accessibility and technology upgrades.
  6. Affordable Housing Reserve contribution increase from $100,000 to $200,000 annually.
  7. Housing Coordinator position in the amount of $103,000.
  8. Funding for the Orillia Overnight Warming Centre in the amount of $31,500.
  9. Approximately $30,000 for a Waterfront Shuttle Service Pilot Program to assist with transportation to waterfront amenities in lieu of parking.
  10. Centennial Boat Launch Parking Lot project in the amount of $1.5 million.
  11. $34,000 for implementation of paid boat launch parking for non-residents.
  12. Climate Change Action Plan Coordinator position in the amount of $115,000.
  13. $60,000 for a Transit Electrification and Zero Emissions Study.
  14. City-wide customer service enhancements in the amount of $150,000.
  15. Printable drop-in recreation program calendar in the amount of $20,000.
  16. Public Wi-Fi for Rotary Place in the amount of $120,000.

Through the budget process, Council focused on user fees and rate-supported services to ensure rates were appropriately aligned and to reduce the pressures on the overall tax levy. As a result, recreation, culture, parks and facility rental fees will increase between three-to-15 per cent, which equates to about $3 to $10. Fees for Fun Passes at the Orillia Recreation Centre for Orillia taxpayers will remain frozen for 2023 and will be brought forward for review as part of the 2024 budget process. Rates for Fun Passes for non-residents (those who do not pay taxes directly to the City of Orillia) will increase effective May 1, 2023.

In addition, parking revenues were increased. The City will be working with the Parking Advisory Committee and the Downtown Orillia Management Board on the approach and will report back to Council this spring.

Additionally, Council approved changes to rate-based programs such as water/wastewater and stormwater rates over the next four years to address the City’s ongoing administrative, capital and operating costs to provide water, wastewater and stormwater services. These changes have an average impact of approximately an additional $100 per year for the average residential household.

Council also approved a phase-in to a full user-pay program for garbage tags whereby residents will receive 10 tags per household in July 2023 and then as of 2024 no tags will be issued. The cost to purchase additional garbage tags will increase to $2.50 per tag.

“The City has adopted a budget with a tax levy increase of 2.79 per cent, which is equal to about an extra $35 per year for every $100,000 of assessed property value. This net 2023 levy increase is lower than what is being proposed by several surrounding municipalities and shows Orillia is holding the line on inflation while investing in areas of growth,” said John Henry, Chief Financial Officer/City Treasurer. “Additionally, the City has undertaken a comprehensive review of its user fees and rate-supported services and has implemented a responsible strategy to keep rates aligned with the cost of service provision while at the same time striking a reasonable balance with the tax levy.”

For more information about the 2023 budget, visit orillia.ca/budget.


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