The Occupy movement has focused attention on the inequitable distribution of wealth in our society but seems to have reached its limit in exerting any influence. At the same time, news is beginning to appear about the preparation of the County of Simcoe budget. The fact that, next year, County spending will decline by $12 million in one area caught my attention:
“Overall, the county sees operating expenditures declining by $12 million from 2011, as the province takes over the costs of the Ontario Disability and Ontario Works programs.”
This is a welcome reversal of a provincial decision in the 1990s to down-load social services onto municipalities. The wealthiest communities were the least likely to be burdened with the cost of providing social services to residents. The experience has been quite different in Simcoe County.
The chart illustrates that social services is, by far, one of the largest expenditure categories in the County operating budget of $345 million. All the more reason for this responsibility to be more equally shared among all Ontario residents. The County also plans capital projects costing $67 million with almost half ($31.5 million) allocated to redevelopment of the Georgian Manor seniors facility.
The next biggest expenditure is waste management. Spending there may increase by $2 million. This is partly attributed to more spending on recycling including a plan to provide larger blue boxes (40% larger – 83 litres). “The cost of the new boxes is expected to be $650,000 after a provincial subsidy pays 50 per cent of the cost”.
Road construction will benefit from about $7.4 million in gas tax revenue.
The County still projects a 2% increase in the tax levy. Transfers from reserve funds will decrease by 35% but the County tax levy would increase by 39% compared to last year. In Innisfil, the Simcoe County portion of the property tax bill was about 27% of the total last year. The budget will be presented to County Council on November 22.