City of Barrie developing 2020 budget, seeking public's feedback online

The City of Barrie is in the process of developing its 2020 budget and is seeking residents’ feedback through an online tool.

Dubbed the Budget Allocator, people can choose to increase, reduce or maintain budget spending for nine major service areas, including roads, transit, recreation, environmental operations, business development and fire and emergency services.

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“The province isn’t funding the same level of service, so costs are getting pushed down to the municipality to make up that difference if councils want to provide the same level of service,” said Craig Miller, Barrie’s finance director and treasurer.

“It’s impacting the police service’s budget, it’s impacting the Simcoe Muskoka health unit’s budget. So those costs are being pushed down to the city.”

In a statement, Michael Prowse, Barrie’s CAO, said there have also been changes to the province’s Development Charges Act.

“Barrie is a municipality that we’re relying on development charges heavily to support growth,” Miller said. “What Bill 108 does is it reduces the amount of development charges that municipalities can collect.”

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According to Miller, it’ll be more difficult for Barrie to implement its capital plan with less development charge revenue.

And if the city maintains the same level of service, it puts pressure on its overall budget unless services are reduced somewhere else, Miller added. “It’s a bit of a juggling act, but it’s definitely a pressure for us this year.”

Through its online budget allocation tool, the city says residents can learn more about each service area and how budgeting changes can affect service delivery.

According to the City of Barrie, Ontario municipalities receive nine cents of every tax dollar raised in the province, while the provincial government gets 44 cents and the federal government gets 47 cents.

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On the other hand, the city says, municipalities own 57 per cent of the capital infrastructure, while the provincial government owns 41 per cent and the federal government owns two per cent.

The city says its 2020 budget will outline its plan to make up for the provincial funding cuts so it can ensure important, frontline services are delivered, while minimizing the impact on local taxpayers.

“It’s being presented as a draft budget November 4,” Prowse said. “Then council will have information in front of them, and then they’ll finalize it in December 9.”

The budget allocater tool will remain open until Nov. 18, and its results will be shared with Barrie city council during business plan and budget deliberations.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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