Special weekend Barrie city council meeting focused on cutting costs
Barrie city councillors gathered for a special Saturday meeting to discuss ways to curb the city's spending over the coming decade.
Councillors recently received long-term financial projections detailing what the city would have to spend to complete all of the projects on the table.
"When we received that forecast, the number was very, very large, about an $8-billion capital plan over the next 20 years," says Mayor Lehman. "To be frank, council can't afford, or the city can't afford that unless we were to raise taxes substantially, and we don't want to do that."
So councillors gathered in person Saturday, voting to defer approximately $260-million from that $8-billion capital plan in planned spending. While it only equates to 3 per cent, the mayor says it is large enough to impact the bottom line.
"That 3 per cent makes a surprising difference because by pushing things and doing them more slowly we can afford to pay for more of them with the existing revenue that the city receives; that means less debt, it means lower tax increases in the future," says the mayor.
The mayor says the decision on the table today was deferring projects that, while wanted, are not necessarily deemed as essential right now. This includes delaying road-widening due to slower than anticipated growth in the population and pushing back planned construction of a new recreation centre.
"You always want to do more," says Lehman. "What you have to make sure is that you absolutely don't delay the ones that must be done, and then you can get into can we do a good job of doing the things that we should."
Council is next set to pour over the 2022 budget, with the ratification expected in early December.