Greater Sudbury given gloomy financial forecast

City accountants say if the numbers don't change between now and when the budget is drawn up, citizens could be facing a 4.9 per cent tax hike.
Tired of the choice between service cutbacks and tax hikes, some Sudbury city councillors are looking for new ideas. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

It's pretty straight forward math: There's not as much money coming in, so to pay the bills, the city has to find it somewhere else.

That's what lead to a gloomy financial forecast at Tuesday's Sudbury city finance committee meeting, with a 4.9 per cent tax hike projected for next year.

The city's chief financial officer Lorella Hayes told city councillors there's not as much building these days in Sudbury, so the flow of new tax dollars is slowing down.

She said that tax assessment growth peaked in 2011 and has been on a downward trajectory ever since.

The funding cheques from the provincial government are also getting thinner and thinner.

The Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund is projected to give about $2- to $3 million less to Greater Sudbury every year for the next several years.

While revenue is going down, the cost of running the city keeps going up. As an example, Hayes said the energy bill for Greater Sudbury next year, including electricity and diesel fuel, is set to jump $800,000.

'Every dime counts'

Tired of the choice between service cutbacks and tax hikes, some Sudbury city councillors, like Dave Kilgour, are looking for new ideas.

"I think we've done everything we can to try and cut back," he said.

Kilgour wondered if the city should be more aggressive in trying to attract new businesses and residents to move here and pay taxes.

Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk isn't running again and won't be around when the budget talks begin but, as she has with every budget since she was elected in 2010, Matichuk suggested some potential cuts. One of her proposals was to trim $60,000 from doctor recruitment.

"Every dime counts, as I've said from day one," she said. "So, I just want to give you those suggestions and I'll keep looking until I leave."

Many of the city councillors currently around the table might not be there when the budget talks begin in early December, shortly after the new council is sworn in.


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