COVID-19 costs lead to County seeking 7.7 per cent more from City for services provided

The County is scheduled to present its 2021 budget numbers at Monday night’s virtual council meeting. Costs relating to COVID-19 are adding to this year’s budget.


The County of Simcoe, which provides a range of services to Barrie, is coming to the City for 7.7 per cent more than last year’s budget request.
The County provides ambulance services, long-term care, Ontario Works, children’s services, social housing, and other needs to the City. In return, the City funds its share of the services provided. That totals $26,857,000 this year, up from 2020’s forecast finish, $25,471,000, and the actual 2020 budget of $24,949,000.
The County is scheduled to present its 2021 budget numbers at Monday night’s virtual council meeting.
The County’s 2021 budget has been approved by county council. Costs related to COVID-19 pushed up spending in a number of areas, the County says. The City is being asked to come up with another $750,000 to operate long-term care, with the County citing additional costs including additional staff, disinfectants, and other virus-containing measures.
Regarding capital costs, including the redevelopment of Simcoe Manor, the City’s contribution seems to be increasing $594,000. The City’s costs for its share of land ambulance (paramedics) is actually coming in at $1 million less than last year, but the City’s share is still $6,583,000.
With the County’s budget, its residents are looking at a zero per cent municipal tax hike. City residents are facing a possible 3.59 property tax hike.
During a general committee meeting in November, conversation turned to COVID-19 support funds from other levels of government (more than $9 million from Safe Restart), and what to do with it. The question of using it to lower a possible tax hike was raised, followed by a caution from Mayor Jeff Lehman.
“The County is coming to the City for 7.7 per cent more than last year, and that’s a substantial amount of funding. When I asked questions about that, the primary cause is an increase in long-term-care costs; I think all of us who have watched what has happened during COVID can understand why the county wants to spend more on staffing and long-term care,” he said then.
“It’s a substantial bill for the City … when asked how the City could pay for this, they said Safe Restart funding.

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