The city’s 2024-25 budget deliberations will include up to 42 business cases totalling an overall 2024 budget impact of at least $4.8 million.
This amount excludes 11 business cases of the 42 the reports of which have yet to be drafted.
The 31 business cases with accompanying reports would carry a 2025 budget impact of $8.6 million, followed by $4.2 million in 2026, $3.7 million in 2027, and $3.4 million in 2028 (the last year for which an estimate has been made available by city staff).
The business cases would be apart from the 4.7-per-cent tax levy maximum city council directed staff to produce in their draft budget, which will require them to cut $10.5 million from the city’s base budget.
Some business cases would result in expenditure increases while others would adjust service levels to reduce expenditures.
The base budget is slated to be tabled on Nov. 15, which will be followed by city council budget deliberations culminating in a 2024-25 operations budget and four-year capital budget being approved by the end of the year.
The list of 42 business cases, including 31 with associated reports, were tabled this week in advance of the Oct. 17 finance and administration committee meeting.
At the Oct. 17 meeting, city council will decide which of the business cases should be forwarded to this year’s budget deliberations.
“Where a business case has a tax levy impact, reviewing them now provides an opportunity for identifying other budget adjustments that could help offset such an impact,” according to a municipal report attached to the business cases.
“For example, adding a new service or increasing a service level may create a tax levy increase, but it may be able to be offset by reducing a different service level or adjusting a user fee.”
The most expensive ongoing city council-directed business case is the hiring of eight additional full-time firefighters between 2024 and 2025, at a 2024 tax levy impact of $438,034 and a 2025 impact of $912,656, growing to $1.3 million by 2028.
The new hires are meant to help address the “significant dependence on overtime to meet historical absences and the minimum staffing requirement of 24 suppression firefighters and one platoon chief per shift,” according to the business case.
“Reducing our dependence on overtime would be beneficial to the health and safety and overall wellness of our firefighters who are working a significant amount of overtime each year.”
This staffing boost would increase the city’s current total number of career firefighters from the current 112 to 120 by 2025, boosting the number of firefighters per platoon by two.
As reported earlier this year, the City of Greater Sudbury spent $2.28 million on overtime for career firefighters in 2022, which was more than double the $1.15 million spent in 2019.
“I can see burnout because of increased absences,” Sudbury Professional Firefighters Association president Mike Squarzolo told Sudbury.com at the time, adding that the city has not kept up with the demand, which exacerbates the overtime issue.
Adding full-time firefighters to the city’s staffing complement were last considered during 2023 budget talks, which included a business case requesting the addition of four full-time firefighters. This business case was punted to 2024 deliberations. The latest business case proposes four additional full-time firefighters in 2024, with another four added in 2025.
Sudbury.com will dig deeper into the city’s collection of business cases prior to budget deliberations so readers have a fuller picture of what the city’s elected officials are voting on.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.