After amendments to the proposed capital and operating budgets, City of Barrie council has approved a 2.75 per cent tax increase. That breaks down to a 1.75 per cent increase to deliver services from the city and its service partners and a 1 per cent increase for the Dedicated Infrastructure Renewal Fund, which is used to replace and renew the city’s infrastructure (city roads, bridges, and buildings). For the average Barrie home assessed at $334,000, the increase translates to an additional $114 on your tax bill.

As part of the budget, council also approved changes to the water and wastewater rates for this year. A typical Barrie home, consuming 180 cubic metres of water annually, will see an increase of $9 on their water bill and $14 for wastewater.

“This is a lean budget,” says Mayor Jeff Lehman. “But our staff and council have managed to develop a budget that still focuses on improving the quality of our services. I believe we’ve struck a balance between the need to continue investing in the bridges, roads and other existing infrastructure to maintain our modern community, while planning for future growth. This balance minimizes the total increase to the taxpayer while allowing our city the resources to address our growth needs.

“Also, the city’s share of Alectra dividends are starting to pay off, which has helped us to ease pressure on taxpayers. The good work done to grow our power company has helped to fight high power prices while returning more to Barrie residents.”

The $312.6 million capital plan includes $135 million to be spent on infrastructure. Projects include the Harvie Road crossing of Highway 400 ($60 million), the widening and reconstruction of Mapleview Drive East from County Lane to Yonge Street ($15 million) and the continuing city road resurfacing program ($3 million). Major roads scheduled for resurfacing or renewal work this year include Bayfield Street, Anne Street, Henry Street, Huronia Road, Mapleview Drive and McKay Road. As well, the budget includes funding for the Barrie-Simcoe Emergency Services Campus.

As a result of the Dedicated Infrastructure Renewal Fund, the city is investing an average of $8.4 million per year to fix local roads between 2018 and 2022, which is about twelve times more than the annual investment in local roads in the years immediately prior to the fund being established.

The 2018 budget also provides investments in significant technology projects that will modernize city processes and increase automation to provide residents and businesses with fast, simple, efficient service and an enhanced online business environment.

Other notable investments in this year’s budget are the addition of a baseball diamond at Painswick Park, two new officers and two civilian employees for Barrie police along with additional resources for park maintenance.

Residential property tax bill funds are allocated to city services (55 per cent), education (14 per cent, as mandated by the province) and service partners (31 per cent between the Barrie Police Service, public library and the County of Simcoe).

The 2018 business plan and budget is available at www.barrie.ca/budget.