By Karen Wolfe

Due to the new rules that came with Bill 3, the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act, council was able to compress a traditional, two-day budget negotiation process into little more than five hours. 

In the end, nothing was removed from the $118,317,110 draft budget and discussions around five separate projects meant an additional $438,600 was added to the now adopted budget. 

As a result, tax payers will be faced with a 5.51 per cent increase in their property taxes which translates to an additional $140 a year for a property with an assessed value of $448,000.00. 

Georgina will collect approximately $55.3 million in tax revenue in 2024 to help fund operating expenses of close to $75,443,650 and capital expenditures of around $19.1 million.

Water and waste water rates will increase 8.9 per cent next year and will support $19.7 million in operating expenses and $4.4 million in capital costs. 

Two projects were added to the budget during negotiations and received extensive discussion among council members. One was a $120,000 business case to implement the first phase of improvements to Lake Drive North and Lake Drive East. 

A previous staff report recommended this roadway be redesigned to offer a single, one-way, general purpose vehicular lane on one side of the road and a bi-directional, multi-use lane for pedestrians and cyclists on the other. The first phase of the work will include a collection and analysis of additional data on traffic, traffic movements, parking and the impact on side streets. 

Lake Dr. One-Way Project (Town of Georgina)

A second debated project received approval to spend $225,000 to retain a health expert to lead the development of a Made-in-Georgina Health Care Strategy and Action Plan.

The project would also see the establishment of a Core Project Team and Task Force, in consultation with various health care stakeholders, to develop a high-level project plan that would guide the future direction of improving access to health care in Georgina. 

New initiatives in the adopted budget document also included plans to develop a Climate Change Action Plan, washrooms at Holmes Point Park, a remediation program for West Park and $3.7 million for road repairs. 

Although no line items were removed from the budget during negotiations, Ward 4 Councillor Dale Genge did attempt to find savings of $437,000 when she suggested delaying the replacement of four staff vehicles with low mileage for a year. 

Her motion failed to find support around the council table and staff countered by saying the recommendation to replace the vehicles was designed to provide a safe, reliable and well maintained fleet for staff.