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BUDGET: 2024 operating and capital budgets gain council approval

'We understand the difficulties residents are encountering, and with an estimated surplus from last year, we're utilizing reserves to alleviate some of the burden' ... but we 'cannot rely on reserves indefinitely ... Council is committed to gradually phase out the use of reserves ... over the next five years'
North Bay City Hall

Following months of deliberations, North Bay Council approved the City of North Bay's 2024 operating and capital budgets during a special meeting of council on Tuesday, touting a focus on core services and strategic investments in infrastructure.

Councillors Sara Inch and Tanya Vrebosch voted against the operating budget.

See related: City budget moving to council with 3.97 per cent levy increase

According to a news release issued by the City of North Bay, the operating budget, totalling nearly $160 million, includes a tax levy of approximately $110 million. This represents a levy increase of 3.97 per cent or a tax rate increase of 2.74 per cent. Grants, user fees, and other ancillary revenues balance the difference between the total budget and taxpayer levy contribution.

The forecasted change per $100,000 in the assessment of your home is $41.39 for the year. So, if your home is assessed at $300,000, your tax bill will go up three times $41.40 (per $100K of assessment) for an increase of $124.20 or approximately $10.35 per month. The annual tax bill for individual properties is dependent on assessed value and the tax rate, which will be set by council at a future date.

"This budget reflects Council’s commitment to maintaining essential services, investing in critical infrastructure, and making strategic investments for North Bay's future," said Deputy Mayor Maggie Horsfield, also the budget chief.

“We also continue to support the vital work of our Service Partners – organizations like the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board and North Bay Police Service – as they continue to deliver important services to the community.”

Approximately 45 per cent, or $49.8 million, of the tax levy, is designated to support service partners, such as the DNSSAB, NBPS, North Bay Public Library,
Capitol Centre, Cassellholme, North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, and North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority.

In anticipation of a 2023 year-end surplus, a portion of reserves totalling $2.6 million is being utilized as part of the approved budget to alleviate the tax impact on residents and businesses amidst high inflation and other economic challenges.

"We understand the difficulties residents are encountering, and with an estimated surplus from last year, we're utilizing reserves to alleviate some of the burden,” added Horsfield. “We also recognize that the City is experiencing similar cost pressures and cannot rely on reserves indefinitely. That's why Council is committed to
implementing a strategy to gradually phase out the use of reserves to support ongoing operational costs over the next five years."

Operating Budget Highlights

According to the City of North Bay, the approved operating budget not only maintains current municipal service levels, including essential services such as road maintenance, garbage and recycling collection, and emergency services, but also includes support for new or expanded community initiatives and strategic investments, such as:

  • $100,000 to extend the Peer Outreach and Security Team program, enhancing existing patrols in the Downtown Waterfront and Cassells Street areas.
  • $19,758 to support lifeguard recruitment, extending the beach lifeguard season by one month from June to August from the previous July to August term.
  • $51,615 has been allocated for public recycling programs in downtown areas, arenas and parking facilities.
  • $10,000 earmarked for third-party compliance software to aid staff in effectively implementing short-term rental regulations.

See: Decision on future of community sharps bin in the works

The approved operating budget also includes a proposed increase in transit fares, which is projected to generate an estimated $55,351 in revenue in 2024. This fare adjustment, which is contingent upon a public meeting and subsequent Council approval, would mark the first increase in nine years. It is aimed at helping to address escalating vehicle operating costs, fuel, and material costs incurred over that period. Under the proposed change, cash fares would remain below the provincial average, rising to $3.25 from the current $3 rate.

Capital Budget Highlights

The gross general capital budget totals $56.5 million and includes investments in core infrastructure and community assets, such as:

  • The widening of McKeown Avenue between Gormanville Road and Cartier Street
  • Construction of sidewalks for transit routes in various locations
  • Premier Road sidewalk extension and road resurfacing
  • Laurentian Heights stormwater management pond construction
  • Community and Recreation Centre
  • Asphalt resurfacing in various locations
  • Municipal vehicle and equipment lifecycle replacement
  • Capital needs of service partners such as Cassellholme, North Bay Police Services, and North Bay Public Library

Water and Wastewater Capital Budget

The gross water and wastewater capital budget totals $19.6 million and includes key infrastructure investments to support the ongoing delivery of sustainable services, including the operation of the water and wastewater treatment plants, such as:

  • The widening of McKeown Avenue between Gormanville Road and Cartier Street (water and wastewater portion)
  • Replacement of the intake chamber at the Wastewater Treatment Plant
  • Relining of sanitary sewer in various locations throughout the City
  • Rehabilitation of a large size watermain at Lee Park

For draft copies, reports, and documents about the combined 2024 operating and capital budget, click here. For more on the 2024 water and wastewater operating budget that was earlier passed by council, click here.