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Arthur's Complete Guide to Tax Rate Increases and the Implications for You

Written by
Sebastian Johnston-Lindsay
and
Abbigale Kernya
and
August 22, 2023
Arthur's Complete Guide to Tax Rate Increases and the Implications for You
Graphic by Evan Robins.

According to a June report from Peterborough City Staff, a 5.59% all inclusive tax rate for 2024 is required to maintain current service levels. In response to this report, Councillors resolved that Staff would present outlines for increases to the tax rate which include implications for a 3% increase and 7% increase in addition to the status quo rate of 5.59% as recommended by staff.

At a meeting of the Finance Committee on August 16th and 17th, Council passed a motion to direct staff to work within a tax increase guideline of 4.5-5.5% as they plan for the 2024 City Budget.  

This range was suggested by Mayor Jeff Leal and passed after some discussion, despite the fact that the all inclusive tax increase has steadily risen throughout the duration of 2024 budget deliberations to this point. A fact which has become increasingly transparent through this process is that after years of artificially reducing the tax burden through deferrals and delays to major projects, the illusion of keeping taxes low has resulted in a “status quo” level of functioning that is unable to keep up with the needs of the City. Past increases to fund services and maintenance have not been carried out in a proactive way. 

At the same time, legislative changes to development fees, higher expectations surrounding the number and type of homes to be built, and lower funding levels for Public Health, Ontario Works from the Province of Ontario is making it more difficult for municipalities to keep up with the rising costs of these services while maintaining infrastructure.

As an illustration of the pressures facing municipalities like Peterborough, the Province has offered the City “Strong Mayor Powers” in exchange for its commitment to building 4700 new homes by 2031. Mayor Leal feels he wouldn’t require these powers, which would allow him to veto votes on development, bylaws, and budget matters with the support of only one third of Council members. 

However, this tactic, which includes the City’s ability to tap into the recently announced $1.2B Building Faster Fund means that municipalities continue to be caught in this cycle of dependency, which requires them to bend to the will of the Province for increasingly scarce resources.

The fundamental truth is that the status quo cannot be upheld—much less improved—without raising taxes substantially after years of delaying the inevitable, as well as finding ways to think creatively about how to leverage existing programs and venues to create additional revenue.

The cost of minimizing tax rate increases at 3% comes at the expense of foundational resources and would see community organizations receiving drastic cuts alongside depleted funding for city-wide improvments—essentially taking a massive step backwards in any hope of progression in this city. 

By way of contrast, in many divisions of the City raising the all inclusive tax rate to the 7% range promises to provide much-needed improvements and additions to the city at the expense of property taxpayers’ wallets in an age of unaffordability. 

In a case of deja vu, the overarching pressure on council—specifically councillor Keith Riel—when deliberating on the proposed tax increase is the unknown variable of Peterborough Public Health and the Peterborough Police Service Board having not yet to come to council with their individual proposals for funding—a cost which could see the all inclusive tax rate drastically spike, despite what has already been voted on during council. 

Arthur staff were there on the ground during the seven hours of budget presentations in order to ensure we could bring to our readers the highlights and implications of Council’s decision to move on a budget guideline and what it could mean for you and the future of this City. Below you will find a summary of each Commissioner’s presentation which contained a robust discussion of the implications for each City division under their portfolio.

Council will vote to ratify the 4.5-5.5% guideline for Staff at an upcoming Council Meeting on August 28th.

Screenshots from the City Treasurer's Report outlining the City's Operating Budgets and Capital Budget for 2023. City of Peterborough.

Corporate Services:

Facilities and Property Management Division

The Facilities and Property Management Division operates at 0.05% of the 2023 Net Operating Budget and 27% of the total 2023 Capital Budget. Moving ahead in 2024, City Treasurer, Richard Freymond, outlined in a presentation shared with council a proposed 5.82% increase to the Net Operating Budget, and a 1.9% increase to the Capital Budget to maintain current service levels. 

The key objectives outlined in the presentation for 2024 would see the completion of Phase two of the Morrow Park arena and aquatics complex, an additional fire station, the implementation of the social housing portfolio, and a continuous life cycle replacement needs.

Freymond also detailed large capital projects planned under the proposed new operating initiatives for 2023. Coming in at a cost of $37.2 million, the large capital projects include the controversial new arena and aquatics centre, two parks, an additional splashpad, City Hall Customer Service renovation, Healthy Planet Arena phase 2, and next steps for a new police station.

The report outlined what the potential outcome would be for the departments under facilities and property management at a 3% all-inclusive tax increase for 2024. Some of which include a reduced capacity to deliver courier services, grass cutting, snow plowing, custodial services, fire extinguishers, and sprinkler testing among the list of 25 potential city-wide reductions in services. Needless to say, a tax increase anywhere in the 3% range would be a devastating hit to the city. 

With a 7% increase, however, the “potential priorities” for additional projects include timely maintenance of roofs, mechanical equipment, and upgrading parking lots, with the additional implementation of recreation projects that have been endorsed through council studies aiming to “enhance outdoor activities for the entire community to promote a healthy lifestyle.”

City Clerk’s Office

The City Clerk’s Office operates at a relatively small portion of the 2023 budget, with 0.05% of the Net Operating Budget and 0% of the Capital Budget. The proposed 2024 Net Operating increase is 4.9% ($43,118). In the presentation outlined by Freymond, the key 2024 objectives are centred around Service Peterborough, Records Management, Enhances business licensing program, ride shared, support to council, and the 2026 Municipal Election considerations. The amount increased aims to offset the factors affecting the operation budget such as inflationary cost of supplies, salaries and benefits, and the implementation of Service Peterborough.

If Council were to impose a 3% all-inclusive tax rate, the Clerk’s Office would see a reduction of staff training and travel conferences, as well as a reduced amount of funding for parades and processions. 

With a 7% all-inclusive tax rate, the Clerk’s Office would enact further enhancements in the Records Management Project and enhance customer relationship management.

Emergency and Risk Management 

Emergency and Risk Management currently operates at 0.05% of the 2023 Net Operating Budget with a proposed increase of 2.61% ($12,948), and has no part in the 2023 Capital Budget nor the 2024 Capital Budget. 

Importantly, the slideshow presented to council did not mention the implications of a 3% and 7% tax increase, but only mentioned the services offered at current tax levels. With the lack of transparency surrounding emergency and risk management in a city that has seen drastic flooding this summer alone, the implication of the key 2024 objectives, which includes the development of major event emergency and operational plans, the facilitation of provincial extreme heat exercise, nuclear reception centre exercise, and the 2024 solar eclipse plan, could all potentially be cut with a tax rate lower than currently being suggested by Staff.

Additionally, it can be inferred that the proposed new operating initiatives that include expanding engagement with community agencies to support vulnerable populations during emergencies with the launch of the emergency management portal would also not be implemented with a low tax rate.

Office of the City Solicitor; Legal Services Division, Realty Services Division, Municipal Law Enforcement Division, and Court Services Division.

The total of the four division’s 2023 Net Operating Budget is 0.52% and 0% of the Capital Budget. The proposed Net Operating increase for Legal Services as outlined in the report suggests a raise of 1.55% ($10,960), a decrease of 0.9% ($1,316) for Realty Services, a decrease of 16.3% ($159,810) for Municipal Law Enforcement Services, and a decrease of 34% for Court Services which, as Freymond pointed out in the presentation, operates with a negative net surplus budget. 

Examples of the Municipal Law Enforcement Division’s current levels of service include 1,000 investigations of municipal standards, 800 investigations into illegal tenting, 26,000 parking violations, as well as issuing sign permits and rental dwelling licenses. 

Importantly, in 2024 the Municipal Law Enforcement Division aims to increase staffing levels. Notably, the overarching pressure on the 2024 Budget is focused on the Peterborough Police’s five year staffing plan, which has repeatedly been debated in council, with City Staff loudly encouraging Peterborough Police to defer their hiring process as they are one of the largest contributors to the rising all-inclusive rate. The enforcement of City by-laws in this division are ones which the Peterborough Police Service have been wary of engaging with, specifically those to do with tenting. 

With a 3% all-inclusive rate, Legal Services, Realty Services, and Court Services are all able to operate within those means and Municipal Law Enforcement can continue to operate at 2023 levels, however, the long-term goals would likely be deferred. 

The presentation outlined by Freymond does not include the course of actions planned for these divisions at A 7% tax rate increase. 

Infrastructure and Planning Services:

Planning, Development and Urban Design

Planning, Development, and Urban Design operates at 0.97% of the 2023 net operating budget and 4.1% of the 2023 capital budget. In the report presented by the City’s interim Commissioner, Michael Papadacos, the 2024 net operating budget for planning, development, and urban design actually proposed a decrease of 1.4% ($20,645) in 2024, and a decrease of 2% ($106,800) in the 2024 Capital budget. 

The proposed 2024 key objectives include advancing the housing accelerator fund initiatives, an employment land strategy, and the Otonabee River Trail from Del Crary Park to Little Lake Cemetery.

Some of the factors affecting the operating budget are two positions previously cost-shared (50-50) with Building Services to be 100% funded under Planning, an increase in professional membership fees, training expenses, and office supplies. 

With a 3% tax rate, the Otonabee River Trail would be deferred, there would be insufficient funds for staff positions, delays to development approvals, and reduced contributions to the Property Acquisition Reserve.

A 7% tax rate would see additional contributions to the Property Acquisition Reserve in addition to an increased capacity for “strategic property acquisition to meet corporate objectives.”

Asset Management and Capital Planning

Asset Management and Capital Planning operates at 1.32% of the 2023 Net Operating Budget, and 9% of the total 2023 Capital Budget. The proposed Net Operating increase as outlined by Papadacos is 5% ($104.310) with a -7% decrease ($848.3) in the Capital Budget. 

There is a wide range of key objectives targeted for 2024, including an updated flood reduction master plan, implementation of stormwater quality master plan, completing the transportation master plan special, launching the home energy efficiency program (HEEP), completing the community climate cange action plan for 2050, completing the greenhouse gas reduction study for municipal buildings, implementing integrated infrastructure risk management policy and procedure, and updating the emerald ash borer management plan. 

The factors affecting the operating budget are the restructuring of the Transportation Planning section into Asset Management and Capital Planning (AMCP), reorganization of reporting structure for AMCP, and the inflated contribution to the climate change reserve.

Large capital projects for asset management and capital planning include the Curtis Creek Flood Reduction Projects, storm and sanitary upgrades on Armour Road, sewer inspection and rehabilitation programs, and importantly; the implementation of the Storm Water Quality Master Plan Implementation. 

A 3% all-inclusive tax rate would see the deferral of key initiatives for transportation master plan, including central area parking strategy, the completion of Curtis Creek flood reduction,

GHG reduction measures, eliminate flood reduction and rain garden subsidy programs for residents, and any tree planting programs.

A 7% tax rate would extend support for multi-use trails and refurbished trails, and increase subsidy programs to improve resident protection against floods.

Engineering & Capital Works

Engineering and Capital Works operates at 1.8% of the 2023 Net Operating Budget and 26% of the 2023 capital budget. Staff proposed a 94% increase ($2,654,400) to the total net operating budget in 2024 and a 14% increase to the 2024 capital budget in order to maintain current service levels. 

The key objectives in 2024 include several road reconstructions, including the Chemong road construction from Parkhill to Sunset blvd, Landsdownw Street West from Clonsilla Avenue to Spillsbury Drive, and Landsdowne Street West from Park Street to Lock Street. The key objectives would also see updrages to the pay and display machines, the expansion of traffic smart signals, and implementing communal safety zones and traffic calming programs. 

Parking demand being significantly reduced during the pandemic and not recovering from pre-pandemic levels are a significant factor affecting the operating budget, with the average King Street Garage peak demand at 45%, and the Simcoe Street Garage peak at 30%. Additionally, inflation demands are increasing operational costs for goods such as fuel and traffic paint are putting pressure on the budget.

The large capital projects planned for 2024 include the Brealey Drive reconstruction—a $20M ($10M in 2024, $10M in 2025) total project that has been long discussed during previous council meetings. The Sanitary & storm sewer replacement and repair program (2.5M) is also planned for the upcoming year.

A 3% tax rate would see the deferral of city-wide traffic calming programs, and a 7% tax rate would see the implementation of traffic wide calming programs. 

Airport

The Peterborough Airport—which sees 40,956 annual aircraft movements—operates at 1.46% of the 2023 Net Operating Budget and 0.68% of the 2023 Capital Budget. The proposed 2024 increase would see a rise of 0.8% ($17,733) Net Operating Budget and a $1,600 increase in Capital Budget to maintain current service levels. 

Staff presented the key objectives moving forward in 2024 which includes the implementation of a stronger business plan to further increase development, improving financial sustainability with the possibility to include new revenue streams, and investing in new operating revenue streams to improve capital. 

However, the rising costs of insurance rates and annual increase of Airport Operations are a heavy pressure on the budget. Therefore, the airport would see several 2024 operating budget changes including a 12% ($27.5K) increase in insurance and utilities, and a 5.8% (64K) increase in overall airport operations. 

Additionally, large capital projects such as a new aircraft storage hangar ($450K) and an aviation fuel farm (550K) are also planned pending an appropriate tax increase ratified by council.

At a 3% tax rate increase, operations primarily would remain at a consistent level of service, but a potential delay in delivery of capital projects, reduced marketing commercial development, and strategic planning are possible.

With a 7% tax rate increase, the airport would see the implementation of a 10-year capital program with the creation of new revenue streams from planned capital projects, in addition to continued development. 

Transit

Transit currently operates at 6.92% of the 2023 net operating budget and 8.34% of the total capital budget. With Peterborough’s transit a high cause for concern among residents—specifically students—the proposed 2024 increase of 14.6% ($1,573,830) in the net operating budget alongside a proposed decrease of 38.35% (-$4,204,200) in the 2024 capital budget only further enhances the concerns of those who already utilize transit, as well as those who might start should the service be adequately funded and reliable. 

Looking ahead to 2024, Staff outlined the key objectives in their report for the upcoming year, focusing on stabilizing resources impacted from Covid-19, recruiting new drivers, improving bus stop accessibility, the continuation of Phase two of the Intelligent Transit System program aimed to provide automated transit updates to improve efficiencies, as well as the continued collaboration with Peterborough Transit Liaison Committee. 

A 3% tax rate increase would see several cuts in funding that would ultimately take an already failing transit system and render it unusable to the average rider. The potential cuts as outlined in the report include: reduced weeknight service, discontinuation of service on statutory holidays, the cancellation of Sunday service, staff layoffs, the jeopardizing of Federal and Provincial funding support, and grave economic impact to the businesses who rely on their customer base accessing their service through public transportation. In short, a tax increase anywhere in the range of a 3% tax rate would essentially remove public transportation from the city of Peterborough almost entirely—as 5.59% tax rate increase is the proposed rate to merely maintain current operating levels in 2024. 

A 7% tax rate has the potential to increase support for operational improvements recommended by the Peterborough Transit Liaison Committee, including increased staff and increased route frequency with extended hours of operation.

Environmental Services

Environmental Services operates at 4.9% of the 2023 net operating budget and 16.9% of the 2023 total capital budget. The proposed 2024 budget guidelines from Staff recommends a 21.3% increase ($1,611,189) to the net operating budget and a 1% decrease to the capital budget.

Current service levels are focused on the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), of which treats 18 million cubic metres of sewage per year on average, in addition to operating the Joint City & County Landfill which sees up to 300 visitors per day. 

Key environmental objectives for 2024 include the operation and maintenance of the WWTP and pumping stations, overall waste management, waste diversion programs, and a first full year of operations for separated organics facilities and the curbside collection program.

Increased costs from the new Single Sign On (SSO) collection program is one factor heavily affecting the 2024 operating budget, in addition to increased material supply costs, annual sewer maintenance inspection, and the impending recycling transition—starting January 1st, 2024—which is anticipated to reduce operating costs but decrease revenue.

The implications of a 3% tax rate increase include the potential to close the landfill one day per week, close the polystyrene diversion program, decrease 2024 contribution to waste management reserve, cancel the large article collection program, and the closure of the Centennial Fountain. 

With a 7% all-inclusive tax rate, the WWTP capital program could become primarily funded through user fees and development charges with an increased budget for proactive capital lifecycle activities based at the WWTP and pumping stations in addition to increased contributions to reserves in preparation for future costs of remediating contaminated sites, as Commissioner Papadacos detailed in the presentation. 

Public Works Operations

Public works occupies 7.32% of Peterborough’s Net Operating Budget and 4% of the total Capital Budget. To maintain current service levels, the report recommends a total increase of 7.2% ($824,574) to the Net Operating Budget and a 33.9% ($1,767,100) increase to the Capital Budget.

Heading into 2024, the key objectives for Public Works importantly focuses on key factors to improve the overall health of the city, including ongoing road inspection and asphalt repair, expansion of sanitation collection, and much needed sidewalk reconstruction ($1.5M). Increased costs from the new sanitation collection program, increased fuel and material costs with rising insurance premiums are factors affecting the operating budget. 

A 3% tax increase provides limited opportunities to implement the key objectives and could potentially see a deferral of the Graffiti Action Plan, remove municipal snow clearing responsibilities, and decrease parks and horticulture maintenance. 

With a 7% tax increase, several levels of service improvements are possible in 2024, including moving forward with the Litter and Graffiti Action Plan.

Community Services: 

Social Services

Social Services accounts for approximately 12% of the City’s total Net operating Budget and 1% of its total capital budget. Commissioner of Community Services, Sheldon Laidman explained that this department would require a 4.6% increase ($556,237) to their operating budget in 2024 in order to maintain services, and represents a status quo level moving into the next budget. This would be coupled with a proposed increase of $640,000 to the department’s capital Budget for 2024 bringing the total expenditure on the capital side to $1.9M.

The main priorities for the department in terms of maintaining service levels into 2024 include the operation of directly operated childcare centres, the continuation of Social Assistance (Life Stabilization) for 3100 households and maintaining services for the County of Peterborough. 

Looking forward to 2024, the department is looking towards ensuring that 50 individuals are stabilized through Transitional Housing at Wolfe Street, and that they can continue to complete new affordable housing projects. Social Services also aims to increase the number of available childcare spaces through the Access and Inclusion Expansion Plan and to bolster Social Assistance Programs with a Life Stabilization focus. 

However, like other departments, Social Services is facing uncertainty due to changes in provincial funding models, particularly those around Ontario Works (OW). This could result in an increase in cost of around $346,000 extra for the City moving into the new budget. Laidmain outlined the fact that while OW expenditures for the City are up only 1.1% the overall budget is sitting at an increase of 5.7%. Additionally, there are also concerns around forthcoming changes to the provincial funding model for Children’s services.

The implications of a 3% all inclusive tax increase would be dire for the most vulnerable members of the community as one of the major changes would be cuts to the amount of discretionary benefits available to the nearly 3000 individuals in Peterborough who are currently on OW. The end of municipal funding for municipal funding for discretionary OW benefits would represent a savings to the City of around $385,000. 

Cuts to the services and allocation of funding to OW would also result in higher caseloads for workers as well as reduced client outcomes, Laidman’s report outlines.  

Additionally, this tax increase could see the closure of Directly Operated Child Care Centres in the neighbourhood which would result in a savings of around $310,000. 

With an increase of 7% to the tax rate, the department foresees being able to allocate more funds to maxed out programs such as housing incentives and be better situated to develop an affordable housing funding program. Laidman also suggested that at this rate, the department would be able to increase the social housing capital repair budget to match the needs according to condition assessment needs. 

Arts and Culture

Arts and Culture represents around 3.48% of the City’s Net operating Budget and less than 1% of the capital Budget. In order to maintain its current levels of service within the community, the department is looking at an increase to the operating budget of approximately 11% ($233,381) for 2024. 

The maintenance of services centres on the divisions’s ability to continue the full-scale operation of the Art Gallery of Peterborough (AGP), which sees 28,000 visitors each year and puts on 12-16 exhibitions annually. 2024 also represents the Gallery’s 50th anniversary.

Additionally, the continued operation of the Peterborough Museum and Archives (PMA), and the Peterborough Memorial Centre (PMC), and the City’s Public Art Program are all centred within Arts and Culture’s portfolio. 

These are venues which could represent major ways to increase the city’s revenue should they continue to be upheld. In 2022, for instance, the PMC’s 79 events resulted in a gross revenue of $5.9M. Ultimately, Arts and Culture hopes to play a vital role in increasing tourism and economic impact through all of its facilities. 

Looking forward into 2024, the City is looking towards the implementation of and updating of the Cultural Master Plan as well as a new community grants process. The introduction of new public arts projects in conjunction with the completion of the twin pad arena on Landsdowne and artist residencies with the City’s Climate Change Coordinator are also possible directions for this division. 

Commissioner Sheldon Laidman outlined the fact that nearly half of the increase is arising from previous COVID-19 resilience funding which has been granted to the Art Gallery by the federal government. There is also a strong need to improve the administrative support for the PMC and to boost the number of City Arts and Culture events. 

The proposed 11% increase to this division’s operating budget also arises in part from the introduction of the Individual Artist Grant. This increase represents what Staff consider to be the level of funding required in order to remain at the status quo. 

Capital project funding is projected to sit at $515,000 for 2024 and includes maintenance for the War Memorial ($274,000), implementation fo the Municipal Cultural Plan ($150,000), and Public Art Projects ($89,000).

Should a 3% tax increase come to fruition, the results would be dire. As most of the programs found within the Arts and Culture Division are discretionary, and therefore not legislated as essential, they are especially open to cuts at budget time. Examples of what could be lost at this level of tax increase include the Public Art Program. 

Ending support for the Art Gallery’s Board of Directors for 2024 would cost the City in 2024 due to the loss of Federal and Provincial Grants, but could result in higher savings in future years if it were pursued. 

An evaluation of the PMA’s operations could potentially result in a savings of $310,000 in 2024. However, the report also notes the fact that given the museum is required to maintain corporate records and the staffing levels required to de-accession museum holdings would mean staff are required. Additionally, the museum has agreements in place with Fleming College as well as the Royal Collection Trust which would complicate this possibility significantly. 

At an increased tax rate of 7%, the Arts and Culture division would be able to look at the potential full implementation of the City’s Municipal Cultural Plan. The City would also be able to devote more resources to the maintenance of memorials under the heritage portfolio and increase funding for public art projects. 

Library

The Peterborough Public Library’s budget makes up 1% of the City’s operating and capital Budgets. Looking into 2024, Staff are looking at a significant increase to the operating and capital Budgets primarily due to the planned completion of the new branch at the community centre complex on Landsdowne. 

This new branch accounts for 80% of the proposed budget increase for the Library division and amounts to a 15.2% ($498,309) increase on the operating side along with a proposed increase of $617,100 on the capital side which includes a proposed $705,000 for library acquisitions intended to implements a strategic replacement strategy for the library’s holdings.

In order to maintain services at their current levels, the main library branch would continue operating at 64 hours of service per week which sees an annual circulation of 420,000 items with 20,000 active cardholders who utilize the library. The branch also holds 295 programs annually which are attended by 8,000 people. 

For 2024, the library’s main objectives are ensuring a strategy and adequate preparation for the new Library branch and looking towards the continued improvement of programming and offerings at the library alongside the implementation of the new strategic plan. 

There is no feasible way to fit the library’s budget for 2024 into a 3% rate increase given the previous approval of the new branch’s operational costs. Slight savings could be achieved through cutting hours slightly, as Commissioner Laidman’s report suggests a savings for $11,000/hour per week cut as well as the possibility of reducing the amount of part-time staff hours.

At a 7% increase, the Library would be able to operate as intended into the 2024 budget year. 

Recreation

The Recreation Division represents 2.38% of the City’s operating Budget and 1% of the City’s capital Budget. A large proposed increase on the capital side for 2024 of around $3.9M arises in part due to the planned $1.35M for the Arena Facilities capital for items such as pavement repairs, electrical repairs, and ice resurfacer replacements in additional to accessibility improvements and the implementation of Phase 1 of the Twin Pad Project as part of the Recreation Master Plan. This includes pickleball courts and skateboard parks. 

Overall, Staff are proposing a 3.41% increase to the operating budget which represents $126,020 in increased spending in order to maintain services. Under this initiative, the City hopes to see the start of operations at the new arena and aquatics complex at Morrow Park and the introduction of programming at the McDonnel Street Community Centre. 

The integration of operations of the Arenas and Recreation Division has resulted in increased efficiencies which Commissioner Laidman noted has resulted in the division’s ability to provide significant improvements to programming while maintaining a low overall increase to the division’s operating budget. 

At an increased tax rate of 3% potential means of savings include the loss of lifeguards at City beaches ($80,000), cutting the Community Gardens Program ($50,000), the loss of the Recreation Low Income Subsidy program ($75,000), and Canada Day Fireworks ($15,000).

Meanwhile, Commissioner Laidman noted that a 7% increase would result in a more timely approval of additional phases of the Recreation Master Plan and would become a major priority for this division moving forward.  

Fire Services

Fire Services sit at 11.73% of the City’s operating budget while accounting for 1% of its capital budget. At this time, Staff are proposing a 3% increase to the Service’s operating budget ($538,856) while capital expenses are expected to drop from $1.3M to $700,000 in 2024. 

In 2022, Peterborough Fire Services responded to 6407 incidents in which their services were required. 3364 of these were medical calls.

Approximately 85% of the Service’s operating budget is applied to salaries and benefits and major factors affecting this side of the budget include obligations through the City’s Collective Agreement, repairs/maintenance, insurance, and fuel costs. The presentation also outlined a proposed new operating initiative which includes recommendations from a 2021 Council Report to increase staffing under a phased approach.

Capital expenditures for 2024 are accounted for mainly through the planned replacement of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus and the replacement of Personal Protective Equipment as mandated by the Ministry of Labour. 

The proposed increase already sits at 3%, but the report from Commissioner Laidman also outlines the impacts of a reduction to repairs and maintenance, which could result in delayed response times. The reduction in IT costs could also lead to interruptions to 911 service and lead to disruptions of service to neighbouring municipalities with which Peterborough has contracts. 

Additionally, an alternative start date for new hires would need to be entertained under the 3% increase while a 7% all inclusive tax rate increase would allow for the purchase of electric support vehicles which would result in lowered maintenance and fuel costs.  

Office of the Commissioner

The Office of the Commissioner of Community Services accounts for 1.36% of the net operating budget for the City of Peterborough and contains no capital expenditures. The report contains a proposed 6.3% increase to the Office’s operating budget for 2024. 

The maintenance of service levels for the Office includes the continuation of Community Grant programs including Project Grants, Investment Grants, and Service Grants. This portfolio also includes initiatives under Community Development which include the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Program, Age Friendly Peterborough, the Community Safety and Well Being  (CSWB) Plan, as well as Seniors Programming and other community agreements. 

For 2024, the Office is looking to ensure the permanence of the DEI program from a temporary contracted service alongside the implementation of the DEI and CSWB plans. In 2023, reserve funds were used to pay for the contracted DEI Advisor position which is now required to be annualized in the 2024 budget. 

$1.85M of the Office’s total $2.243M budget is discretionary meaning that should a 3% tax rate be implemented, there would be significant opportunities to cut these intended expenditures. Cuts that could be realized are to the Community Grant Program ($240,000), Service Grants to outside organizations ($1.62M), non-salary DEI program expenses ($25,000), CWSB Plan implementation ($50,000), and cuts to Community Development grants to agencies such as the Kawartha Food Share, Community Care, and the New Canadians Centre ($82,000).

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