Norfolk County’s draft 2021 operating budget is now available for public review.

The County’s operating budget is a financial plan for the day-to-day operations of the municipality. It includes cost estimates for the staff salaries, supplies and equipment necessary for delivering County services such as garbage and recycling collection, grass cutting, snow plowing, the operation of recreational facilities and more.

This year’s draft budget is part of a multi-year plan, which began in 2020, designed to return Norfolk County to financial sustainability.

The plan includes presenting Council with a range of optional cost-cutting measures and operational efficiencies. It also proposes temporarily borrowing from the Legacy Fund to provide relief to local taxpayers already struggling from the effects of COVID-19 on the economy.

Because much of the County’s operating budget is devoted to 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 require a 12 percent increase on the tax levy.

Instead, staff are recommending $3M in cost-cutting measures, as well as a $5M loan from the Legacy Fund to reduce the levy increase to 4 percent.

Staff propose using the same borrowing plan next year, and then paying back the loan – with interest – over the following number of years.

Using the Legacy Fund would both relieve taxpayers of undue hardship while also giving staff more time to find savings and service-level changes to reduce the net levy requirement in future years.

If savings from service-level changes are not found, taxes will likely need to increase by a double-digit percentage in 2023.

The 2021 proposed budget would see property taxes on a home with an assessed value of $240,000 in 2020 increase by $106.

No decisions are final until ratification by Council.

Council will consider the budget on Jan. 6 and 7.