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City budget talks end with a 2022 tax levy increase of 3.1 per cent

A ‘measured risk’ is being taken by removing $1.1 million from the city’s 2022 budget and banking on the province footing the bill for a supervised consumption site
Tom Davis Square 1 (2018)
tom Davies square 2018

With City of Greater Sudbury councillors’ eyes trained on keeping taxes as low as possible, the fifth and final evening of 2022 budget talks ended tonight with a 3.1 per cent tax levy increase. 

After hitting a peak of 3.5 per cent, Mayor Brian Bigger tabled a successful motion that shaved off $1.1 million by removing municipal funding for a supervised consumption site.

He’s banking on the province footing the bill, as he has joined his colleagues on council in advocating for and penned an open letter to Premier Doug Ford about a few weeks ago.

If the funding doesn’t come from the province, city CAO Ed Archer said a report would come to city council seeking an alternative funding source – possibly a withdrawal from reserves or a budget reduction from another area. 

In assuming the funding is coming forward, Bigger said the city is taking a “measured risk,” and affirmed that regardless of what happens the project will have the city’s backing.

“I will continue to advocate strongly with both the federal level representative and the provincial level representatives on this project that is absolutely essential and in the works by our Public Health Community Drug Strategy for many years,” he told local media in a conference call that followed tonight’s meeting.

The supervised consumption site currently being constructed at Energy Court in downtown Sudbury will serve as a harm reduction effort aimed at providing a safer environment for people using intravenous drugs. The building is expected to be completed in late February or early March, at which time the federal government is anticipated to conduct an inspection to determine whether it will be allowed an exemption. 

If this exemption is granted as expected, Bigger said he’s confident the province will follow through with funding.

Relaying a recent text message from associate minister of Mental Health and Addictions Michael Tiobollo, Bigger said, “Hello, your worship, I believe it is safe to say that we will support a consumption and treatment site if the municipality requests and the feds provide the exemption.”

After the meeting, Bigger clarified that while he’s still working to get this commitment on official government letterhead, it signals a pretty strong indication of support. 

Bigger affirmed that Sudbury Liberal MP Viviane Lapointe is also on the case and has been advocating on the municipality’s behalf.

Tonight’s meeting also also found city council approve a reduced request from Place des Arts. 

Reacting to city council’s desire for as low a tax increase as possible, the leadership behind the arts organization came back to council with a request of $60,000, which is shy of the $110,787 they’d initially requested and which city council debated during last week’s fourth day of budget deliberations.

These operating dollars are intended to top off the city’s existing annual commitment of $149,213, and Ward 6 Coun. René Lapierre said Place des Arts was able to lessen this year’s request due to the fact the organization will not be fully operational at the start of 2022.

Funding to keep the Kelly Lake Road recreational vehicle dumping site in Sudbury open was also approved by city council tonight. 

An automated payment system will be installed at the lone dump site at an estimated cost of $13,184, with annual operating costs of approximately $46,812 coming from wastewater operating funds. 

The state of city roads was afforded much discussion through the balance of tonight’s meeting, with the municipal budget document pointing to a much greater investment need than the city is currently providing. According to these documents, the annual five-year-average expenditure of $35 million is approximately $45 million shy of what is needed to keep roads in their current overall state. 

Toying with the optics of tax increases, Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland first proposed an added investment of $460,000, which would bump the tax levy increase to 3.249 per cent and would be rounded to 3.2 per cent. 

With that failing to gain traction, McCausland proposed a $158,137 investment, which would jack up the tax levy increase to 3.149 so the city could still claim a 3.1 per cent increase.

Only Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc joined McCausland in voting in favour of the motion. 

Later, McCausland proposed a one per cent special capital levy dedicated toward local roads, which would bring it in at 0.5 per cent less than the special capital levy proposed by city administration.

“Unfortunately, I won’t support a one per cent or a 1.5 per cent capital tax levy, especially this year when we’re dealing with a global pandemic,” Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti said – a point echoed by much of the rest of council in voting against McCausland’s motion, with Leduc again the only member of council apart from McCausland to support the idea. 

Earlier this year, city administration reported that an additional $100 million would be required every year to maintain city assets at their current levels. 

Tonight, Bigger asked city financial planning and budgeting manager Steve Facey what kind of an impact $100 million would have on the tax levy, and his answer was an approximately 33 per cent tax levy increase. 

“I don’t think council has any intention of delivering significant increases like that on our tax levy to entirely eliminate our infrastructure gap,” Bigger said. “It’s not something municipal taxpayers can solve.”

The city will have to find innovative ways to use their dollars more effectively, he added, and senior levels of government might also bring about solutions.

The City of Greater Sudbury’s 2022 operating and capital budgets will now carry forward into next year and a 2022 property tax policy is expected to be approved sometime in May. 

Prior to tonight’s meeting, the city’s elected officials engaged in four additional nights of budget deliberations, which found them approve external agency requests, a 4.8-per-cent water/wastewater levy increase, funds for a transitional housing project and various business cases, including the Valley East Twin Pad Multipurpose Sports Complex (pending $20 million comes from senior levels of government).

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for


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Tyler Clarke

About the Author: Tyler Clarke

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for
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