By Tristan Marks
Although nothing is finalized, a draft version of Lincoln’s 2021 capital budget suggests there will be a zero per cent levy increase.
Lincoln CAO Mike Kirkopoulos presented a first look at the 2021 capital budget alongside the Town’s senior staff in the form of an overview presentation to Council on
Nov. 4. Council has not voted on a budget and this is only one of the first steps in the process.
Staff examined a large number of avenues and strategies to keep the impact of the budget a slow as possible for taxpayers and reach a zero per cent budget.
“We have heard council and understand the need to ensure we keep affordability at the forefront of our decisions,” CAO Kirkopoulos said after the meeting. “Staff have prepared a zero percent capital budget. ”
As it stands, the capital budget for 2021 is estimated to be just under $3,109,000.
Kirkopoulos explained in his presentation that staff are looking for ways to create efficiency through collaboration between departments, and funding certain projects through reserves rather than the levy.
Staff also prioritized projects according to their urgency.
The Greenlane utilities project phase one was deferred for 2021. This was the same for certain aspects of the Allen F. Gretsinger outdoor pool facilities project, such as painting and the installation of sand filters.
The Cemetery Monument restoration project was divided into two phases to help mitigate costs: one to be completed in 2021 and the other in 2022.
However, some items expected for later budgets were moved up for 2021. As directed by the Regional Works department, an Ontario Street sewer upsizing project was moved from 2025. The draft also includes phase one items for a Town-wide sewer rehab and replacement project and a King Street sidewalk replacement project.
Kirkopoulos explained that many of these decisions were made in the context of a difficult pandemic year.
“It is important to note, the Town has already made difficult decisions throughout this past year, we have looked at costs, services, service levels, capital projects, and placing staff on emergency leave, among others,” Kirkopoulos said after the meeting.
The draft did not include a special infrastructure levy, although Coun. JD Pachereva asked staff to look into scenarios for a one or half per cent levy increase for that.
Council will revisit the subject again at a December 2 “deep dive” budget committee meeting. A final budget will be voted on in January 2021.
In the meantime, Lincoln residents can give their feedback on the budget and budget process by taking a survey found online at the Lincoln.ca homepage.