Norfolk County’s budget committee has passed the 2021 operating budget, part of a multi-year plan designed to return the County to financial sustainability.
The $220M budget (approximately $105M of which is funded through property taxes) includes $3.3M in cost-cutting measures and operational efficiencies as well as a plan to temporarily borrow $5M from the Legacy Fund to provide relief to local taxpayers already struggling from the effects of COVID-19 on the economy.
Because much of this year’s operating budget is devoted to COVID-19, as well as critical infrastructure and set costs such as wages defined by collective bargaining agreements, insurance, contractual obligations, debt payments and utilities, a 2021 budget with no new spending would have required a 12 percent increase on the tax levy.
With the $3.3M in cost-cutting measures, as well as the $5M loan from the Legacy Fund, the increase to the levy has instead been reduced to 3.7 percent.
This equates to an increase of $99.53 on the property taxes of a home with an assessed value of $240,000.
“There’s no denying that this was an incredibly difficult budget, which included some very tough decisions,” says budget committee chair Ian Rabbitts. “No one wants to both raise taxes and reduce services, but that’s the unfortunate reality we face. I am confident, however, that by making these decisions now – and ending the practice of kicking problems down the road – we’ve put Norfolk back on the path toward financial sustainability.”
Some of the cost-cutting measures approved by the budget committee include:
- A targeted reduction of more than 20 full-time equivalent County positions
- Replacing the county-wide bulky waste pick-up (every two years) with a call-in pick-up service supported by a user-fee
- Reducing recreational services on statutory holidays
- Reducing operating hours at museums
- Discontinuing the seasonal South Coast Shuttle
- Reducing the transfer to the Norfolk County Library Board
- Reviewing user-fees for a variety of services
Staff proposed nearly 30 cost-cutting options and efficiencies for the budget committee’s consideration, and will form a committee to explore further options in advance of next year’s budget deliberations. Regular updates will be provided to Council throughout 2021.
The budget is not final until ratified by Council on January 26.
Learn more at norfolkcounty.ca/budget2021.