City councillors approved the 2018 budget Wednesday, approving a three per cent property tax increase following a marathon six-hour meeting.
The increase for a home valued at $230,000 is about $87 more a year, or $7.25 a month. Separately, water/sewer rates increased 7.4 per cent, part of a long term plan to have users pay for the system, rather than all property owners.
The city's total budget next year amounts to $564 million, and includes the debt financing plan for the $100 million arena/events centre on The Kingsway.
"City Council is dedicated to ensuring tax dollars are spent responsibly,” Mayor Brian Bigger is quoted as saying in a news release.
“This budget is investing in the services we have come to rely on, as well as our infrastructure and our quality of life. I want to thank Council and staff for their participation in the process and for their hard work.”
What's in the budget:
- The 2018 capital budget is $263 million, with a roads budget of $104 million, including the four-laning of Municipal Road 35, continuation of Lorne Street rehabilitation, and an increased investment in cycling infrastructure.
- Additional syringe recovery and needle bins to address the surge in used needles being found across the city.
- An ambitious plan to provide major upgrades to 58 of the city's playgrounds in the worst shape. The work will be done using existing HCI funds.
- A donation of $750,000 to Maison McCulloch Hospice for their expansion plans, to be paid out at a rate of $150,000 over the next five years.
What's not in the budget:
- A request for $9.5 million from the developer behind Brewer Lofts, a project that aims to turn the former Northern Breweries into condos.
- A proposal to increase parking rates downtown to discourage people who work downtown from using parking meters instead of monthly parking.
- A proposal to start planning the construction of a new fire and paramedic headquarters.
“The 2018 budget maintains tax rates that are among the lowest in Ontario while delivering the services residents depend on daily,” CAO Ed Archer said in the release. “Along with staff, I look forward to delivering results throughout 2018 and to continued progress throughout the city.”
City council is expected to formally approve the budget at its Dec. 12 meeting. Find more budget details here.