Orillia passes budget, taxpayers will have to dig deeper

city of orillia

Balancing the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, increased inflation rates and other economic pressures, Orillia Council approved a 2022 budget with a 2.98 per cent tax rate increase at its Special Council meeting.

“Despite being faced with significant economic pressures including record high inflation rates, Council was able to deliver a 2022 budget that not only maintains, but increases service levels, and responds to the needs of our community,” said Mayor Steve Clarke. “Financial challenges such as the minimum wage increase, lower investment income, inflation, and the effects of the zero per cent tax increase from 2021 meant starting off budget deliberations with a base budget already around two per cent. I am pleased that Council was able to deliver what we believe to be a reasonable increase, which over 2021 and 2022 results in 1.49 per cent per year and is considerably lower than inflation.”

The City’s $65.2 million operating budget includes the City’s $8.2 million health and social services contract with the County of Simcoe, the $8.7 million Ontario Provincial Police contract, continued investment in technology, and additional resources to support increased projects and operations due to growth.

In order to support one-time operating budget items, including security measures for the Orillia Public Library, funding for the Building Hope Warming Centre and Mariposa House Hospice and to provide additional resources for litter and spring street clean up in 2022, Council approved a one-time reduction in the Capital Tax Levy.

The City’s $41.2 million capital budget, which is funded from the capital tax levy, various reserves and grant funding, focuses on the asset management of numerous municipal facilities and public spaces, investments in green infrastructure and reducing the City’s carbon footprint, and ongoing investment in transit, road and water/wastewater infrastructure. Recognizing the city’s need for a new hospital and mechanisms to stimulate a vibrant economy, Council proactively earmarked up to $500,000 from its reserves to support a proposed Innovation Hub and $250,000 to support Orillia’s future hospital. These funds were redirected from existing sources to minimize any impact on the community.  

“The City has adopted a budget with a levy increase of 2.98 per cent, which is equal to about an extra $110 per year or $9.17 per month on the average residential home. The City offers good value for its tax dollar as by comparison Orillia's taxes are considered in the low-to-mid range in the recent BMA Study, which compares various municipalities throughout Ontario. This net 2022 levy increase is lower than what is being proposed by several surrounding municipalities,” said John Henry, Chief Financial Officer/City Treasurer.

Highlights of the 2022 budget include:

  • Phase 2 Centennial Drive Area Improvements, which includes reconstruction/realignment of the Mississaga Street East/Centennial Drive/Canice Street corridor from Front Street North to Brant Street East in the amount of $17.8 million.
  • Installation of Level 2 electric vehicle chargers at Orillia City Centre and the Municipal Operations Centre for City fleet in the amount of $40,000.
  • Investments in retrofits and upgrades of various City facilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • Continued investment in information technology to further Orillia’s delivery of online services and to automate and streamline processes internally.  
  • One-time funding of $50,000 funding from the capital tax levy for Mariposa House Hospice.
  • One-time funding of $17,000 funding from the capital tax levy for the Building Hope Warming Centre.
  • $5.8 million for West Street Reconstruction and Widening from James Street to Highway 12.
  • $1 million in assessment growth revenue (subject to final numbers for assessment growth from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation).
  • Up to $500,000 in funding allocated from the Social Assistance and Economic Recovery COVID-19 Emergency Relief Reserve to a new Innovation Hub Reserve for the proposed Orillia Area Innovation Hub Initiative.
  • $250,000 reallocated from the 2 Hunter Valley Reserve to the Orillia Hospital Reserve Fund for future hospital funding.
  • Collins Drive Boat Launch rehabilitation in the amount of $100,000.
  • $25,000 to support traffic calming measures annually.
  • Additional transit shelters throughout the City.
  • $492,000 for Orillia City Centre Council Chamber accessibility, information technology upgrades, and refurbishment.
  • Bayview Sewage Pumping Station Upgrades in the amount of $3.5 million.
  • Annual road resurfacing program in the amount of $970,000.
  • Annual sidewalk program in the amount of $440,000.
  • Road and sidewalk spot repairs in the amount of $130,000.
  • Watermain Replacement - Esther Anne, Karen Crescent and Charles Road in the amount of $950,000.
  • Lightfoot Trail improvements in the amount of $150,000.
  • Foundry Park design plan in the amount of $110,000.

For more information on the 2022 budget, visit orillia.ca/budget.