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County of Simcoe passes 2023 budget


County of Simcoe councillors have approved this year's budget and met their goal of keeping an increase in taxes below inflation.

The $695-million 2023 budget comes along with a 3.5 percent rise in property taxes, the largest in the last five years.

It comes amidst soaring inflation costs, which has caused increased pressure on the county and its residents.

"When you are looking at the budgets at home, people have concerns too because the average person is starting to hurt now," says Warden Basil Clarke. "So we were really mindful of what that inflation was, and our goal was to come in well under that, so I'm very happy that we were able to do that."

Amongst the key priorities in the budget are the following:

$92-million for long-term care facilities

$91-million for social housing

$67-million for paramedic services

The county will continue to invest in various long-term care facilities, including the Simcoe Village expansion project.

Part of the $91-million social housing investment will go towards three affordable housing projects throughout the county. A project already underway in Orillia will continue, a new project in Bradford is just starting, and a project in Barrie is entering the design stage.

"We all know inflation is hitting everybody hard; it's hitting our construction hard, and it's also hitting our social services, which is why we're still committed to those big projects in Bradford West Gwillimbury and Orillia to do with our affordable housing," says Clarke. "We have our COVID recovery that is also included in this budget to help those businesses get back on their feet after a tough couple of years."

The county is also investing in its paramedic services, with demand expected to rise by more than 5 percent this year.

It is adding one new ambulance to the fleet, which will bring an additional six paramedics to its team.

"In terms of the increase to the average resident, we usually talk in terms of how much it costs in terms of $100,000 in value," says Trevor Wilcox, the general manager of corporate performance for the county. "For this budget, that 3.5 percent equates to $9.77 per $100,000; that will be the increase on the bill."

The county says it is able to finance the entire budget and is only using reserves where needed. It is not borrowing from external debt. Top Stories

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