Sudbury

Sudbury ratepayers to face 4.8% tax hike in 2020

If you own property in Greater Sudbury your taxes are going up — by 4.8 per cent. After several evenings of deliberations, Sudbury's Finance Committee approved the 2020 budget for the city, including a 1.5 per cent capital levy for aging infrastructure.

Tax levy includes 1.5% capital surcharge to help pay for aging infrastructure

City Council in Greater Sudbury approved its 2020 budget with a 4.8 per cent tax levy for ratepayers. This is broken up into a 3.3 per cent operational levy and a 1.5 per cent capital levy for aging infrastructure. (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

If you own property in Greater Sudbury your taxes are going up — by 4.8 per cent.

At its fifth and final budget meeting, Sudbury's Finance Committee approved the 2020 budget for the city.

Councillors then convened a special city council meeting afterwards just to approve next year's financial plan.

The 4.8 per cent tax levy is made up of two numbers: an operational levy of 3.3 per cent, and a special capital levy of 1.5 per cent. The latter is designated to address aging infrastructure across Greater Sudbury.

Councillors spent almost an hour of the budget meeting discussing the extra burden being put on taxpayers.

City staff explained that a capital levy of 1.5 per cent would bring in $4.1 million.

There had been a discussion that the amount be tacked on over a five year period, however city council will decide in future years if this surcharge will continue.

City council will also decide where that money will be allocated.

A list of potential projects will come before council early in the new year to determine which will get funded.

These are projects that are of priority for the city, but were not funded from within the 2020 budget.

7-3 recorded vote approving capital surplus

"I think it's time that we stop avoiding what is necessary," said councillor Robert Kirwan.

He supported the 1.5 per cent capital levy feeling that the city couldn't keep putting this off any longer.

Councillors had voted down a similar capital levy during 2019 budget deliberations.

"We have to invest in the future and we have been avoiding this hard discussion for years." Kirwan said.

He also mentioned that other municipalities in Ontario have also chosen to implement a special levy to provide funding for infrastructure improvements.

3.3 + 1.5 = 4.8 tax levy

Mayor Brian Bigger says he doesn't want to just throw money at aging infrastructure. 

"I would like to see a really strong effort at looking for innovative, leading edge solutions to improve our infrastructure and the life of the infrastructure," Bigger said.

"The expertise is in the community." he added in reference to engineers who could help find solutions.

The mayor was one of three members of council who opposed the extra surcharge on taxpayers. Councillors Mark Signoretti and Fern Cormier were the others who voted against the capital levy.

The final recorded vote was 7 to 3 in favour of the capital surcharge.

With the 3.3 per cent operational levy that brought the final tax hike for next year to 4.8 per cent.

For taxpayers with a home assessed at $230,000 (2019 figures) that works out to be an extra $144 on a yearly tax bill, or $12 a month.

Mayor Bigger believes ratepayers will realize why councillors came to that decision.

"I think that the taxpayers understand the pressures we all are under in a $620-million budget we're approving this year, plus an additional $160 million of capital," he said.

"It's a very large budget. It's a complex budget and for all of the councillors who participated, you know, they solidly represented their constituents in the way that they felt best."

The city has a $614.9 million operating budget for 2020. This is $21 million more than in 2019, when the operating budget was $593 million.

About the Author

Angela Gemmill

Journalist

Angela Gemmill is a CBC journalist who has covered news in Sudbury, Ont., for 14 years. Connect with her on Twitter @AngelaGemmill. Send story ideas to angela.gemmill@cbc.ca

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