Use the following table of contents to view the 2012 Business Plan & 2012 – 2021 Capital Plan in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format.
This document is also available for public viewing in a hard-copy format at the City Clerk’s Office or Finance Department, 70 Collier Street, 1st Floor. If an alternate format is required, please contact (705) 739-4204.
The 2012 Business Plan addressed Council's direction to develop a budget that not only described how we planned to use the resources entrusted to us, but also described the goals and objectives we intended to achieve. As the process moved forward, many questions arose surrounding the use of tax dollars and how decisions are made. Please find below the answers to some common questions that we received.
When City Council approves the budget, it is approving a plan that describes the local government services and service levels to be provided throughout 2012. In other words, it is the City’s business plan for the coming year. It describes how the City will pay for the plan - through a combination of property taxes, user fees and funds received from other levels of government and where the money will go to provide programs and services. It is a key accountability document, and will be available for download in the coming months once complete.
Click here to view a breakdown of the 2011 tax dollars.
City Council decides whether property taxes need to increase based on the services and service levels it wants residents to receive from their local government. Council provides direction to City staff at the start of the budget process about what it expects the recommended budget to include. For 2012, City Council has directed staff to include options for changes to service levels or user fees that results in no more than a 3% property tax increase.
Actually, the City of Barrie’s property taxes are not out of line with other Ontario municipalities. For example, compared to other Ontario municipalities with more than 100,000 residents, a detached bungalow in Barrie pays approximately 3% less property tax than a similar property in other cities. Property taxes are based on Council’s decisions about the types of services and service levels that should be provided, and about the degree to which user fees should be used to pay for them.
City Council considers several factors when deciding how to balance the sometimes competing priorities of residents who want more or better service and others who want government to cost less. It is not an easy task, so we have developed several measures to compare our performance. One of the ways we are measuring our performance is by participating in the Ontario Municipal CAO’s Benchmarking Initiative (OMBI). OMBI provides valid, rigorous performance comparisons between the City of Barrie’s services and other Ontario municipalities. The City’s 2012 Business Plan includes details about services and service levels to assist Council with determining the appropriate mix of service levels, fees and property taxation
Barrie is one of 15 municipalities in Ontario that participates in an annual benchmarking exercise to compare the efficiency, service levels and quality of local government services. This provides information that could help identify improvements based on practices other cities are using to provide the same services. What we’ve learned so far is that our service levels and efficiency generally compare favourably with other cities. Every city makes its own choices about what’s most important, but overall Barrie has a low-cost, efficient municipal government.
However we are always looking for ways we can improve our efficiency. Based on a review of OMBI comparisons, in 2011 Council directed staff to complete service reviews of six departments. These reviews will identify opportunities for service improvements and net cost reductions that will be considered by Council as part of the 2012 Business Plan.
The City has a comprehensive planning and project prioritization process to identify the best place to use its limited financial resources. While several factors are considered, the objective of the process is to identify the most critical spending needs based on an evaluation of previous directions from Council, expected service levels, condition of existing assets, and the risk and impact of service disruptions.
Subject to Council’s discussions, the budget will be approved at its January 30th 2012 meeting. Following the passing of the budget, watch for a ‘Budget Special Edition’ in local newspapers in the weeks following that will highlight key components of the 2012 Business Plan.
Yes, the city is managing some debt which is typical for most municipalities. The City can issue debt to pay for infrastructure projects, but there are limits on how much debt we can take on. When a spending decision provides benefits for many years into the future – like a new building, for example – paying for it with debt can make sense. But the interest we pay for borrowing uses money that would otherwise go to paying for routine programs and services, so Council uses great care when deciding whether to issue debt to pay for something.
In recent years, the City of Barrie has undergone an unprecedented period of construction and infrastructure renewal. By maintaining, upgrading and improving the City’s aging infrastructure, the city will continue to grow and respond to the needs of residents. In 2011, a couple of major ‘one-off’ projects came online for Barrie which included the Surface Water Treatment Plant as well as the sewage treatment plant.
The 2012 Business Plan details how services can be maintained with our current level of debt while keeping taxes affordable. There are several factors taken into account when creating a plan like this. We look at the necessity of the proposed project, the risk to service levels if not undertaken, as well as any on-going costs once the project is complete. We are one of very few municipalities who have embarked on a comprehensive Long Range Financial Plan that addresses the need for debt management.
It is very easy to get involved and provide your feedback. You can send us your comments through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or watch for other public engagement opportunities that will be listed on this page including live call in shows on Rogers TV as well as other special appearances from City staff who can answer your questions.
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