Bracebridge council has ratified the 2021 budget with no increase to residents’ property taxes.

Bracebridge’s Treasurer Paul Judson says that the town has built up a tax rate stabilization reserve of about $5 million. “It’s been built up over the years from strong budget performances,” he explains, noting that each year a surplus is deposited into the account. “Council decided to use a small portion of that reserve,” he says, explaining that is what allowed for there to be no increase to taxes this year. “If you have this big reserve available and you’re not going to use it during a pandemic, then when will you use it.”

Judson says about $370,000 was taken out from the reserve fund.

“The budget this year has two broad goals is – as much as possible – provide support to those in our community who may be struggling to make ends meet during these difficult times,” Judson explains. He notes that last year there was only a 0.1-percent increase to property taxes in 2020’s budget, so he boasts that council has been able to essentially freeze the tax rate during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The second goal of the budget is to keep progressing on council’s longer-term priorities, so really to improve our service delivery and help improve economic prosperity coming out of the pandemic,” Judson says.

The budget for capital expenditure is set at $20,635,700.

He says the most “significant” project in terms of funding is the initial construction of the Multi-Use Community Centre. A total of $8,750,000 has been earmarked for that. “It also includes a number of public works projects that were delayed last year because of the pandemic,” Judson adds. That includes $750,000 to finish off work on the Black Bridge, $370,000 to complete the extension of Salmon Avenue and other “medium-sized essential projects” like roads, bridges, sidewalks, and stormwater infrastructure.

The approved budget is available on Bracebridge’s website.