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Orillia council approves 2020 budget

In the coming year, residents will see a 3.58 per cent increase on their municipal property taxes, meaning an increase of $44 for every $100,000 worth of assessment. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

Orillia council has approved a 2020 budget that officials say “accounts for external financial pressures and a need to invest in city infrastructure and technology.”

In the coming year, residents will see a 3.58 per cent increase on their municipal property taxes, meaning an increase of $44 for every $100,000 worth of assessment.

Officials are anticipating that the increase will be reduced to about three per cent once the savings from the estimated education tax are applied.

READ MORE: Barrie city council approves 2020 operating, capital budgets

Orillia’s $61.5-million operating budget includes a new waste collection contract and rising costs from Simcoe County and the local health unit, which officials say is a result of “provincial downloading.” The Ontario Provincial Police contract also accounts for a portion of the 2020 tax increase, according to officials.

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Orillia’s $30-million capital budget, which is funded by the capital tax levy, various reserves and grant funding, focuses on infrastructure improvements, asset management, technology advancements and sustainability, officials add.

READ MORE: Orillia council starts its 2020 budget process

“This year’s budget was extremely difficult to swallow. Right off the bat, we were hit with a huge surprise waste collection contract hike to the tune of $1 million,” Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke said in a statement.

“Add to that the financial pressures from provincial downloading, it felt as if we were making decisions with one hand tied behind our backs.”

2020 budget highlights

  • Investments in road infrastructure, including the Front Street reconstruction project, Bleeker Street’s design and reconstruction, the annual road resurfacing and sidewalk program, and doubling the contribution to Orillia’s roads reserve.
  • Orillia Transit investments, including a smart-pay transit fare system, three new transit shelters, bike racks on transit buses and increased winter maintenance at additional shelters
  • Investments in smart technology, including citizen self-service portal infrastructure, upgrading outdated computer equipment, upgrading to LED streetlights and smart lighting, in addition to digital entrance signs.
  • Service to Horne Business Park, which Orillia officials say will create 10 hectares of services employment lands.
  • An additional $1.2 million to reserves in 2020.

“Despite being faced with significant external pressures that we have no control over, we cannot lose sight of maintaining our assets and planning for the future of our great city,” Clarke said in a statement.

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