95% of strategic reserve fund spent in Brampton

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Published June 5, 2024 at 11:10 am

95% of strategic reserve fund spent in Brampton
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown speaks to reporters flanked by members of city council on Dec. 12, 2023.

Brampton’s strategic reserve funds have dropped by $190 million, down to under $9.5 million in three years, with a chunk of that spending on projects that would normally fall to the province.

The numbers come from a report to council in May showing the state of Brampton’s $200 million strategic reserve fund, which was set aside in 2021 after the sale of Brampton Hydro.

Council initially planned to maintain funding, but the report shows the reserve was depleted to less than $9.5 million by the end of 2023.

Some big-ticket items include $40 million on property acquisitions, $7.3 million on the Algoma University expansion, and more than $27 million on the new Toronto Metropolitan University Brampton School of Medicine.

A report to council in 2023 said that any spending on the TMU school was a risk “that could lead to future tax rate pressures.”

Post-secondary spending is a provincial responsibility – an area the report shows Brampton has already spent significant money on in recent years. The city also gifted the $48 million Bramalea Civic Centre to TMU for the new medical school, leading to the eviction of the Chinguacousy Library branch.

The city said council “has been actively utilizing these funds for their intended purpose rather than allowing their value to be eroded by inflation,” according to a report by the CBC.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown brought in property tax freezes after he was elected in 2018 – a move that’s led to lower bills for residents at the cost of less revenue for the city. The freeze was scrapped in 2023 and property taxes could see a spike amid dwindling reserves and the province’s plan to transfer key services from the region down to municipalities.

Brown and the city have boasted that the school is expected to create over 7,000 direct and indirect jobs in Peel Region, and could also generate between $1.2 to $2.6 billion in economic activity over the next decade.

The reserve report shows the city aims to top-up the fund to an “uncommitted” balance of more than $62 million, but no plan to reach that goal has been proposed by city council.

The report also shows the city’s other reserve funds had a balance of $583 million ($1.2 billion with $687 million “offset by commitments”). The city has also been awarded $114 million from the federal government through the Housing Accelerator Fund.

Requests for comment sent to Brown and the city regarding the strategic reserve fund were not immediately returned.

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