Proposed 2022 Budget Delivers Results Despite Pandemic Pressures

$25-million unfunded costs related to COVID-19 next year

The proposed 2022 City of Windsor Budget includes a responsible 1.99% tax increase, including additional spending on public infrastructure, affordable housing, transit, parks and recreation services. As was done last year, the proposed 2022 City of Windsor Budget separates out an additional $25 million in unfunded costs related to the pandemic’s impacts on the municipal budget. If these costs had been fully absorbed by municipal taxpayers, then the projected tax levy increase would be over 7% instead of the proposed 1.99%. Windsor City Council has repeatedly called on the federal and provincial governments to offer renewed operating funding support for municipalities.

Ongoing costs associated with COVID-19 preparedness in 2022 include the following:

  • About $5 million to further subsidize the operations of Transit Windsor, which is currently operating at 50% ridership, as compared to pre-pandemic levels;
  • $6.8-million corporate dividend losses associated with the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, Caesars Windsor and YQG Airport;
  • Over $4 million for enhanced cleaning and screening across City of Windsor facilities;
  • $1-million additional pandemic costs associated with local homelessness and housing programming;
  • $300,000 to hire additional staff;
  • $1 million lost due to lower parking revenues, in part through patios and parklets; and
  • About $7 million associated with recreation services.

Since the start of the pandemic, the City of Windsor has taken a leadership role to support local residents and respond to the public health crisis:

  • Redeployed hundreds of municipal employees to provide vital community services, including staffing the mass vaccination centre;
  • Established an Isolation and Recovery Centre for Temporary Foreign Workers who are unable to self-isolate in farm settings in Essex County;
  • Supported persons experiencing homelessness through the establishment of the H4 Centre at the former Windsor Water World site;
  • Waived fees for bars and restaurants to expand patios across the city as well as rents for tenants in various City facilities;
  • Established the Temporary Emergency Shelter at the downtown aquatic centre and a dedicated isolation and recovery centre for COVID-positive individuals experiencing homelessness; and
  • Offered property tax deferrals for individuals and businesses economically impacted by the pandemic.

As vaccination rates increase and pandemic restrictions ease, the economic costs relating to the pandemic continue for local governments, who are least able to afford them. Across Ontario, municipalities are struggling to balance budgets, as required by provincial law, while responding to growth pressures, all while continuing to cover costs associated with COVID-19.

In September 2020, the federal government reached an agreement with the Government of Ontario known as the “Safe Restart Agreement,” which helped fund municipal and social services and transit operating pressures. A focused, narrow fund for 2022 is needed to help communities like Windsor manage the continued and ongoing financial pressures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quotes:

“The City of Windsor is unique across municipalities: no other community owns an airport and an international border tunnel. We have also invested heavily to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic across our community and will continue to do so. We’re not asking for a hand-out from Queen’s Park or Ottawa – just the opportunity to apply for relief, as we did last fall. Costs related to managing the healthcare crisis shouldn’t fall to the property taxpayer alone.” – Windsor Mayor, Drew Dilkens

“Municipalities continue to face unprecedented financial challenges and pressures as a result of the prolonged impacts of the pandemic. It is vitally important that senior levels of government continue to provide the necessary financial supports to assist cities in 2022 and beyond, as they strive to return to normalized operations and to maintain the key services that residents rely on.” – City of Windsor Treasurer, Joe Mancina

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