During its Tuesday regular meeting, North Bay City Council approved the City of North Bay’s $13.2-million share of the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board’s 2022 operating budget.
DNSSAB passed its 2022 budget internally last month and submitted it to the City with a 3.84 per cent increase in the municipal levy — up from approximately $20.9 million in 2021 to $21.7 million — of which the City of North Bay's share has increased from $12.8 million in 2021 to the approved $13.2 million.
Coun. Mark King advised, "That money is extremely important and is also leveraged with provincial and federal funding." King, also the chair of the social services board, noted the importance of the DNSSAB and "the great benefit it brings to all those that are struggling through these very, very difficult times."
A rise in the cost of services has been cited as the main reason for the levy increase. The total DNSSAB operating budget has risen to just over $82 million in 2022 from $76.5 million in 2021.
DNSSAB says the approval of the budget will result in continued investment into transitional and affordable housing services to support shelter and programming for people experiencing homelessness. And, it will facilitate its move to the direct delivery of Paramedic Services creating "a more nimble service interconnected with other human service programs will be the focus. The overall system will be more able to adapt quickly to change and community priorities."
In deliberations for the budget, DNSSAB staff issued a warning to board members about next year's operating budget. Without any new funding sources for the Gateway House project, it would need to be funded by the levy. "This could result in an estimated municipal levy increase of approximately 11.51 per cent in 2023."
DNSSAB received board approval in October 2021 for the construction of an additional 25 transitional housing units that will be staffed around the clock. According to the staff report, "The goal of this project is to be a high support alternative to the temporary low barrier emergency shelter that is currently located in portables on the Gateway House site," and is slated to be completed by March 31, 2023. "There is currently no provincial or federal operating funding available to fund this project."
Deputy Mayor Tanya Vrebosch declared a conflict as DNSSAB is her employer and her father, Coun. Bill Vrebosch, followed suit. Both Coun. George Maroosis and Coun. Scott Robertson voted against the social services and municipal operating budgets.