On February 7, County Council recommended adoption of the 2020 budget. The budget supports continued delivery of high-quality services while adjusting to changes in Provincial funding and invests in valuable projects and important infrastructure. A County tax rate increase of 1.26% (or about $750,000 compared to 2019) is needed on a total budget of $157.5 million. This represents a $14.48 increase to the average household.
County Council, sitting as committee of the whole, devoted a full day to budget deliberations. County staff presented departmental budgets and highlighted areas of significant change or investment. New resources in 2020 will be used to improve community safety, support growth and development, and create a response to climate change impacts.
“Overall, Council was pleased with the budget staff presented,” said Grey County Warden Paul McQueen. “Inflationary increases and reductions in Provincial funding are adding more pressure to the municipal tax dollar. We believe a 1.26% increase to the levy is both necessary and fair to continue providing services and moving the County forward.”
Grey County is meeting the challenge of a nearly $1 million reduction in provincial funding compared to 2019. Funding for many services has been reduce and service delivery is being adjusted to minimize the impact on the levy. The long-term care envelope has been reduced by nearly half-a-million dollars, paramedic services by $216,000 and Ontario Works by $176,600.
Grey County has seen exceptional assessment growth over the past year. New construction (growth) in 2019 will generate around $1.85 million in new tax revenue this year. The new growth supports the levy and reduces the necessary tax increase for existing ratepayers. The increase in construction activity in 2019 is significant compared to previous years.
In 2020, Grey County is continuing to invest more into road infrastructure. Major projects are planned on Grey Roads 2, 9, 15, 19, 29. Paramedic services will replace two ambulances and funding is being provided to extend the community paramedicine home visitation program to seven days per week.
Grey County housing will administer funding to build around 54 units of affordable housing to the Owen Sound Housing Company build at Odawa Heights. Grey County will also continue to support homelessness prevention and emergency housing.
In long-term care, additional staffing hours are being added to various roles, such as nursing and personal support workers, to enhance personal care to residents. Additional budget is also being added to expand some programs.
Grey County will continue supporting local businesses and the regional workforce. The Sydenham Campus in Owen Sound will continue to develop into a regional skills training, trades and innovation hub. Campaigns will be led to promote workforce attraction and retention. A local agri-tourism campaign called Gather will also launch in 2020 promoting the many food-related businesses and experiences that bring people together in Grey County.
Full details and more highlights of the 2020 budget can be found online at www.Grey.ca/Budget.
The budget won’t be officially approved until the meeting minutes are approved by County Council. They will appear on the February 13 Council agenda.
For media inquiries, contact Kim Wingrove, chief administrative officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 519-372-0219 ext.1292.