Windsor Looks to Deliver 2021 Municipal Budget with 0% Overall Property Tax Levy Increase

City Committed to Managing $38-million COVID-19 Pressure

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, Chief Administrative Officer Onorio Colucci and Chief Financial Officer Joe Mancina today unveiled the draft 2021 municipal budget, which keeps the overall property tax levy increase at 0% while continuing to invest in services, amenities and infrastructure. (See video of the budget preview on Facebook and our budget presentation slides.)

Key features of the 2021 Operating Budget Include:

  • $8 million in savings identified to help ensure continued fiscal sustainability;
  • More than $10 million in targeted new spending, fully offset by a corresponding reduction in the Education Levy;
  • $2.5 million or 0.6% increase towards municipal operating needs;
  • About $3 million or 0.7% increase towards agencies, board and committees;
  • Overall net operating budget of $426,576,438 for 2021, the same amount as in 2020.

The City of Windsor has also prepared a detailed 10-year Capital Plan which forecasts $1.6 billion towards priority infrastructure projects, such as roads, sewers, parks, recreation and culture facilities, and transit investments. The Province of Ontario has mandated that all municipalities establish a long-term asset management plan to ensure that local infrastructure can continue to be maintained, repaired and replaced when required. As a result of this 2021-2030 Capital Plan, the City of Windsor continues to be in compliance with the Ontario government’s asset planning regulations, and this has been achieved two years ahead of schedule.

Unique to this year’s budgetary process are the ongoing pressures caused by the COVID-19 public health crisis. Reduced revenues from municipal operations; higher costs due to personal protective equipment (PPE) and increased cleaning protocols; and reduced or eliminated dividends from operations at the airport, Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and the municipal contribution from the casino have resulted in a projected $38 million in un-funded pressures for 2021. Over the course of the next year, City administration and City Council intend to pursue all potential options to reduce and eliminate this one-time operating pressure. In 2020, the provincial and federal governments provided significant funds to municipalities across the country to help offset the financial strain associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Administration is recommending that advocacy be undertaken to secure similar commitments from the provincial and federal governments in 2021.    

Quotes:

“This is a balanced plan that is tailored for the uncertainty that we face as we emerge from this global pandemic. We can hold the line and keep our overall tax levy at 0% while continuing to invest annually in our asset management plan to build our city up.” –Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens

“It is unreasonable for any municipality to shoulder the costs associated with COVID-19 on their own. As they did in 2020, I hope and expect that the federal government will partner with the Province of Ontario to provide targeted relief to municipalities.” –Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens

“I am very grateful to all the members of administration that worked long hours to develop the 2021 budget while dealing with the challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic. The recommended budget continues the City of Windsor’s tradition of preparing fiscally responsible budgets while investing record amounts in important priorities, such as our road and sewer infrastructure.” –City of Windsor Chief Administrative Officer Onorio Colucci

“As a result of the global pandemic, the 2021 budget has presented new and unprecedented challenges. Given this new reality and its significant negative financial impacts to municipalities, administration has worked extremely hard this year to bring forth a reasonable and fiscally responsible budget that ensures the preservation of the important services currently being provided to our community, while at the same time balancing the need for very limited enhancements or increases where deemed absolutely necessary.” –City of Windsor Chief Financial Officer Joe Mancina

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