Community

Stouffville unveils 2024-2026 budgets

By Connor Simonds, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

In Stouffville’s dynamic financial landscape, unveiling the town’s 2024-2026 operating and capital budgets go beyond routine fiscal exercises; it’s a strategic declaration guiding the town through ambitious goals while ensuring financial stability and community well-being.

These budgets integrate the town’s strategic plan, master plans, and statutory obligations—a deliberate fusion of vision and responsibility in a highly regulated environment. The latter part of this article includes insight from Mayor Iain Lovatt to provide deeper insight into the decision-making processes, risk management, and community input considerations shaping the budget. He sheds some light on how this new budget will affect residents of Stouffville.

The town’s strategic plan, comprised of seven pillars, forms the essence of its vision. From supporting complete communities and improving local infrastructure to fostering community engagement and ensuring good governance, these pillars encapsulate the town’s aspirations for growth, safety, and organizational effectiveness.

To begin, the 2024 gross operating expenditures of $76.4 million include a Library Grant of $2.9 million. The expenditures consist of a net levy increase of $612,014 (1.47 per cent), an additional 2 per cent allocated to current capital assets, and an additional 1 per cent directly fueling the Main Street reconstruction project. Combining the town’s 2024 tax levy increase with Region and Education portions results in an estimated 3.03 per cent blended property tax increase for residents.

 “The 2024 approved budget entails a $189 rise in property taxes for an average resident with an $800,000 assessed house,” Lovatt says. “This is the estimated blended tax increase, considering the tabled Region of York tax levy and the province’s Education taxes. The increased operating tax levy aims to sustain and enhance services, including additional town events and a new Skating Trail.”

Budget drivers include staffing additions, inflation, and other pressures to maintain service levels. Salaries and benefits are the most significant operating investment, representing about 48 per cent of gross expenditures.

“The budget also approves three full-time positions—Skating Trail Operator, Fire Prevention Inspector, and Utility Locate Operator,” Lovatt says. “Approved capital projects include a focus on downtown revitalization including $3.6 million for the reconstruction of Commercial Street, Library Lane and Mill Street; $2,264,000 for O’Brien Avenue road and water-main reconstruction and $1 million for Main Street reconstruction (design portion). The town is also investing $1,550,000 for the resurfacing of Bethesda Side Road.”

The budget anticipates inflation across various expenditure categories from 2024 to 2026. Notable areas include salaries and wages, group health benefits, and utility expenses. The assumed inflation rates contribute to the overall fiscal planning, ensuring a proactive approach to financial challenges.

Detailed inflation assumptions for specific services underscore the town’s commitment to various aspects, such as fire response, road maintenance, parks, trails, and open spaces. These detailed allocations signify a strategic investment in key areas to meet the diverse needs of the community.

“The town is directing investments into its Downtown Core during this council term, with planned projects for the expanding and enhancing the community,” Lovatt says. “Some of these long-term plans include a new fire station, a flagship leisure and community centre, and park enhancements, such as the ongoing construction of the Skating Trail project at Memorial Park. These investments aim to provide residents with enhanced living experiences while also creating tourism opportunities. The town is actively considering additional plans, and residents are encouraged to explore the town’s website for insights into the short to mid-term visions of council.”

The budget includes initiatives aimed at improving operational efficiency.

“Investments in Information Technology, including CityView (permitting software), Customer Relationship Management software, a Human Resources Information System, and cloud-based technologies, coupled with talent retention and recruitment, are crucial for achieving operational efficiencies in the town,” Lovatt says.

These investments contribute to efficiency in various ways. Lovatt mentions the following items that town staff are working on: process automation (automating repetitive tasks); data management and analysis; workflow streamlining (software solutions); cost reduction (long-term technology investments result in cost savings by reducing manual labour); and increased resident channels (options for residents to interact with the town).

The town considered inflation assumptions across various expenditure categories and their impact on the overall budget.

“While inflation creates budgetary shocks, town staff monitor the key inflation indicators and adjust within the budget for the expected pressures,” Lovatt says. “The town is experiencing ongoing pressures in fuel, materials, utilities, supplies, and contracted services. In response, funds are being allocated to reserves to minimize the impact of these shocks to the greatest extent possible.”

As Stouffville forges ahead, the budgets lay the groundwork for a prosperous and sustainable future, embodying the town’s dedication to responsible financial management and community well-being.

 

 

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