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Connecting Link work costs up $6.1 million this year

Here's a look at where the city's at with the 2023 budget process
Timmins CAO Dave Landers and director of finance Natalie Moore present the first draft of the 2023 municipal budget.

Increasing costs for the Connecting Link and overnight security were some of the topics council touched on during its second meeting to work on this year's budget. 

Tuesday, Timmins council met to talk about the document. At the meeting, they were also brought up to speed on the budgets for the agencies, boards and commissions (ABCs) that impact taxpayers.

The hour-long discussion was a chance for council members to remove or add items to the budget and give city staff guidance in what should be included in an update budget package for council to consider for approval. CAO Dave Landers also provided updates on some ongoing issues. 

Here are highlights of what was talked about: 

  • The price tag for Connecting Link work in 2023 is now $19.7 million, up $6.1 million from the originally budgeted $13.6 million. That cost includes the work that wasn't done in 2022. The work scheduled this year is Algonquin Boulevard from Wilcox to Cedar Street, and Riverside Drive from Government Road to Shirley Street. Landers said the work being done as part of the contract awarded last year is a fixed cost. The additional costs are related to inflation for the west end section added on. "We had done an initial projection in the fall and then once we started looking at material costs and some of the escalators realized that that was way off,” said Landers. 

RELATED: Revised work plan pitched for Connecting Link
SEE: $27.9-million contract for Algonquin roadwork moving ahead

  • With major capital projects on the books such as the Connecting Link work and redevelopment of the Golden Manor, Landers said it's "abundantly clear that we're going to have to figure out a longer-term financing strategy". A report on the options for how to spread out the costs over a longer period of time will be brought back to council later this year.

RELATED: Design costs for Golden Manor redevelopment rise

  • A request that stemmed from the BIA for overnight security has been doubled to $250,000 and will look at all businesses areas, not just the downtown. At this point, council is supportive of the cost of the temporary measure being covered by the city's portion of the municipal accommodation tax (MAT) — a four per cent charge collected charge on hotels and other short-term accommodations. 
  • The traffic count for a potential permanent stop sign at Mountjoy Street South and Vimy (the Chez Nous corner) has been done. Landers said engineering staff is working through the information and a report is expected in early April. There are no budget implications with the item.
  • A report about homelessness costing is also expected in April. The city is using a model that the DSSAB supplied on the economics of homelessness and localizing it. While there is no identified homeless cost to the operations budget, Landers said the municipal cost will be in areas such as housing, ambulance and policing.
  • Timmins Transit could be making its way into Google. In other areas, riders can put in where they need to go to and from and Google shows the bus routes to take. Staff has looked into it and Landers said there is no cost. The IT department is trying to co-ordinate local routes being added to Google.

None of the items here or the overall budget have been approved yet, though some aspects have been given the green light. 

At the start of the budget process, the proposed tax levy increase was 3.32 per cent. At the end of this week's meeting, Landers said the overall percentage increase right now is around 3.9 per cent.

SEE: 'Appetite' to try and reduce potential budget increase, says mayor

Timmins council recently gave the green light to the 2023-24 fleet plan worth $3.9 million. It's the first time a two-year plan has been approved.

The 2023 water and wastewater rates have already been approved. The average five-room household will pay an extra $56 — $23 for water and $33 for wastewater. The low-income utility rebate was also increased by $50.

The date of the next budget meeting hasn't been set.