On November 16, the Mississauga City Council released the proposed budget for 2021, as well as the business plan for the next five years. This is a significant update considering the Covid-19 pandemic’s social and financial impacts on the community and local businesses.
The 2021-2024 Business Plan was designed around the city’s four priorities: delivering services, establishing cost containment strategies, maintaining infrastructure, and advancing Mississauga’s strategic vision.
However, given the unprecedented circumstances that we’ve faced this year with the global pandemic, the council also emphasized the Financial Recovery Pillar Report’s importance. This report contained seven pillars to help the city regain its economic strength and was approved on July 7.
The report stated that, above all else, public health and safety is the city’s top priority. The remaining six pillars focused on preserving legislative duties and the use of reserves to endure any financial setbacks that the city may encounter in the next five years.
Certain discretionary measures were outlined in the 2021 budget report, such as postponing specific capital projects that were initially scheduled for 2020. Moreover, the report discussed how temporary lay-offs, and hiring freezes, along with other pre-emptive measures, were necessary to keep a positive cash flow to fund Covid-19 prevention and relief efforts.
In August, the Canadian Federal government allocated $46 million for the city of Mississauga, which greatly helped pandemic response efforts. However, we still face a financial deficit at the end of the year.
This has led the city to add certain revisions in the new proposed budget. On behalf of the Corporate Services office, there is a recommendation to increase overall residential tax bills by one per cent, working out to $56 for an average home. The report also discussed a proposed commercial tax increase of 0.6 per cent.
For the near future, the main focus for the allocation of funds will continue to be on supporting public health efforts and upholding essential services for the city. Over the long term, there is a focus on building a greener and more sustainable city. The proposed climate plan is set to cost approximately $460 million for the next ten years.
Concerning the budget allocation, there will be an expected 7.4 per cent decrease for MiWay services and an 8.8 per cent decrease for land development services. Moreover, the report proposes the cancellation of MiWay express routes 100 and 185 and a further adjustment of certain TTC routes. The changes are expected to save the city approximately $7.6 million. The largest increase in spending is set for Financial Services with 15 per cent, with increases for most essential services as well.
Mississauga is still in lockdown and many residents are anxious about the challenges upcoming months can bring. However, the city council is prioritizing public safety—as emulated in the 2021 budget—and continue to work towards keeping the residents of Mississauga safe.