“Typically, the budgets have gotten approvals well into the new year,” Gravenhurst Mayor Paul Kelly explains.

Next year’s capital budget is proposed to be set at $7,388,500, which is up from $6,980,000 that was set aside for 2020. Gravenhurst’s Director of Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer Val Sequeira put forward other recommendations for next year’s budget. Taxes are proposed to go up 1.2-percent in 2021, compared to the 1.6-percent increase in 2020. 

The proposed increase means if your home is worth $100,000, you will see an extra $5.50 on your taxes. 

A proposed operating budget of $24,026,644 is also up for approval. The operating budget for 2020 was set at just under $24,000,000.

“The goal of this council under the Chairmanship of John Gordon was trying to move it forward to make it coincide with the end of the year,” he adds. Kelly says that will make it so capital and operation expenses are known going into the new budget year. This time around, Kelly says council wants to get the budget done earlier so they have a clear idea of what they will get done during the upcoming year.

“It’s great to know this goal is likely to be achieved,” Gordon said during a meeting on Thursday. It was the first of four meetings to discuss the budget. The other days – which are when the budget will actually be discussed – are scheduled for December 8th, 9th and 10th.

Gordon explained staff first met to plan out budget meetings in August. He said it will be challenging discussing the budget by Zoom, but added he’s glad the public will have more access to take part in them. 

Kelly notes that the capital budget is vital when it comes to town projects. “It allows those that are doing projects to get going on them ASAP rather than waiting,” he says. When people have to wait to find out how much funding they will get, problems could arise that throw a wrench in their plans. 

Gravenhurst’s budget won’t be focused on COVID-19 like the budget the provincial government put out did. “We have to balance our budgets whereas the province and federal government don’t necessarily have to worry,” Kelly explains. All the money they need – or will need – comes from the federal and provincial government so budgeting for those expenses isn’t necessary. “Things related to COVID would be making sure health and safety protocols continue to be in place and any particular costs like opening up the YMCA,” he points out. 

Kelly says the focus will be operating costs. “The number issue for the capital budget is road maintenance and I’m sure that’s not going to change,” Kelly says. 

Thursday’s meeting was used to go over the protocol for December’s meetings and detail the proposed 2021 budget.