Town of BWG Council proposes municipal budget increase of just 1.19%
Budget forecasts a total blended 2.98% increase
Bradford West Gwillimbury, ON (November 12, 2021) – Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury Council met this week to refine the 2022 budget and, after three days of tough deliberation, arrived at a significantly smaller increase than projected. Meeting as the Committee of the Whole, they agreed on a 1.19% increase in the Town’s base budget, for an overall increase of 2.98% or approximately $142 more for the average household versus 2021. This includes levies from the County of Simcoe, school boards and South Simcoe Police, as well as the annual special capital levy and library funding.
Council previously endorsed a three-year budget, anticipating annual increases for 2020 through 2022; however, they actually reduced taxes in 2021 to support residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that 2022 will be a recovery year for projects that were put on hold, as well as staff hires and cost-of-living adjustments that were frozen during the past year and a half.
“We are fairly confident that we will return to a normal level of program and service delivery next year, so we are carrying over what Council endorsed in 2019 along with a few adjustments to reflect changing circumstances over the past couple of years,” said CAO Geoff McKnight.
The rate increase will cover staffing needs including the expected boost in minimum wage, a Manager of Cultural Services for the Library, and a Leisure Centre Recreation Programmer focused on adults and older adults. Other staff additions will be funded by user fees rather than taxation, such as a new Building Inspector, a Wastewater Operator, and a Senior Compliance Officer to meet the demands of new legislation surrounding stormwater and wastewater.
Funds that do not affect the 2022 tax levy – including development charges and capital reserves – will pay for projects such as a review of the Bridge Street corridor, studies into future water and wastewater needs, expansion of the parking lot at 26 Holland Street East, more funds for sidewalk improvement and traffic mitigation, and new features at Henderson Memorial Park and Lions Park.
Council has consistently kept the municipal portion of the budget low by minimizing expenditures and finding cuts in order to offset increases in other areas. In fact, since 2015, the municipal portion alone has had an average decrease year over year, and BWG features a lower municipal taxation per household rate than our neighbours in southern Simcoe County and northern York Region.
“Council felt it was critical to deliver a 0% budget last year so that residents who were struggling during the pandemic wouldn’t be faced with a tax increase in 2021,” said Mayor Rob Keffer. “We knew that would necessitate an increase in 2022, but we worked hard to keep it to the absolute minimum to support residents who are still recovering from two difficult financial years.”
“I think it’s significant that we were able to cut spending in order to bring a projected 5.68% increase in the municipal portion down to just 1.19%, without impacting the amount of money that we are putting into infrastructure and reserves,” Mayor Keffer added. “Not only are we planning for the future, including facilities such as the Community Hub and a future Town hall, but we are also protecting our financial security.”
This was Council’s first in-person meeting since February of 2020, held in the Don Harrison Auditorium at the Bradford & District Memorial Community Centre in order to allow space for physical distancing for staff and council, as well as members of the public who chose to attend. It was simultaneously livestreamed and recordings are available for public viewing at www.youtube.com/c/TownofBradfordWestGwillimbury.
The budget is not final until approved at a regular council meeting.