Windsor passes 0% budget

Windsor City Hall, December 2019. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

Windsor City Council approved a 2021 budget with a net zero increase to the property tax levy.

The budget actually includes $10.5-million of additional spending, but that will be covered by a reduction of the education levy.

“This is not a zero budget. We are spending $10.5-million more this year and the only way we’re able to do that is the province is giving us $10.5-million to offset that spending,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. “$5-million more is going into capital projects to fund our asset management plan, we are holding the line on the sewer surcharge rates, which I think is really important for residents as well, and on the operating side we’ve got another plus or minus $5-million to help offset some of the pressures on your [agencies, boards and commissions] side as well as the city side.”

The budget includes a pilot project in September for a new Transit Windsor route that will give people in east Windsor a more efficient route to South Windsor and St. Clair College in particular.

“Many good improvements here for the community, improvements to transit, improvements to parks, improvements community and affordable housing, bylaw enforcement improvements, so lots of good things that happened here for the residents of the city and at the same time we were able to keep it at a zero per cent budget increase,” Ward 8 Councillor Gary Kaschak.

City of Windsor staff also identified about $38-million that will be needed to cover costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The city did not budget for these expenditures as it is hoping upper levels of government cover the bill like they did in 2020.

“We still have that 38-million dollar hole that is sitting out there and we don’t know what will happen in terms of provincial and federal funding,” said Dilkens. “I was very confident in 2020 that we would be put in a good place because the pressures were so immense that it was undeniable. As we move forward in 2021 it becomes more difficult for the government that can print money to keep printing that money.”

The budget was approved unanimously by city councillors on Monday after a 13 hour meeting.