As it stands, Dryden residents can look forward to a year without property tax or water rate increases, as city staff continue to prepare their 2021 budgets.

City treasurer Steven Lansdell-Roll presented his draft 2021 budget plans last night during a virtual council meeting. Highlights include:

  • no property tax levy increases
  • no water and sewer rate increases
  • just over $1 million set aside for debt servicing.

The draft does include a small, $87,150 operating deficit. Lansdell-Roll provided possible solutions to the deficit, which included drawing from city reserves, using provincial gas tax funds or a 0.6 per cent property tax increase.

Lansdell-Roll has recommended the property tax increase, as he says it’s the easiest decision to balance the municipal budget with a minor increase.

Mayor Greg Wilson, Councillor Dave McKay and Councillor Michelle Price pushed to offset the deficit with funds from their city reserves, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic provided additional funding opportunities from the provincial and federal governments.

Lansdell-Roll’s report notes that when department managers delivered their initial draft budget requirements for 2021, staff expected a nearly $1 million operating deficit, which leadership have worked to minimize.

“The fact that we’re only at a $87,150 deficit is no small feat,” said Lansdell-Roll. “This budget has had to accommodate $400,000 in reduced user fees at the rec centre and airport due to COVID, and we anticipate there will be 2021 impacts, due to the pandemic on our user fees.”

No major service level impacts -- outside of changes related to COVID-19 -- are expected. However, weekend hours at the pool and fitness centre could go down to four hours per day, and less planned maintenance work is planned at the facility, which CAO Roger Nesbitt said was ‘significant.’

Councillor John Carlucci and the mayor suggested using additional city funds from their general reserves to offset any service level reductions at the fitness centre. Community services manager Steve Belanger shared concerns about lessening the value of fitness centre memberships, due to the possibility of lowered service levels.

While the city’s finances are a little tight in 2021, councillors are expecting to finish off 2020 with a significant surplus of roughly $950,000, due to lowered municipal expenses and staffing levels throughout the pandemic.

Councillors moved the $950,000 into three areas:

  • half will be allocated into the general capital reserves,
  • 25 per cent into operating reserve and
  • 25 per cent into the emergency capital reserve. 

The draft budget plan doesn't include any transitional costs for amalgamating the Dryden Police Service with the OPP -- if council votes to do so as they revisit the community’s OPP costing decision -- or any changes in industrial tax ratios, service increases or additional developments.

The budget isn’t expected to be passed until December 14.

For more information:
City expects to finish 2020 with significant surplus