Barrie taxpayers will see a property tax increase of 1.88 per cent for city services in 2019.
After making a few amendments to the City of Barrie’s proposed budget at their Jan. 29 meeting, council approved a 2019 operating budget of $343 million for this year. It includes innovative approaches to improve services and a capital budget of $263.6 million that focuses on fixing existing infrastructure and preparing for growth.
Along with the tax increase, the 2019 budget also includes a one per cent increase for the Dedicated Infrastructure Renewal Fund, which is used to replace and renew city roads, pipes and buildings. That translates to an additional $124 annually for the average Barrie home assessed at $336,000.
“This budget takes a significant step forward in tackling Barrie’s infrastructure deficit,” Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman said. “For the second year in a row, we’ve kept the increase to operating costs below two per cent so we can invest more in fixing our infrastructure, facilitating affordable housing and preparing for growth. Yet, there are also a lot of innovative projects in this budget that will improve how the city delivers services and save money.”
Key projects on tap in this year’s capital budget include the continuation of the Barrie–Simcoe Emergency Services Campus, which is scheduled to open in 2020; the Harvie Road crossing at Highway 400; the widening of Mapleview Dr. E from Country Lane to Yonge Street and the Road Resurfacing Program. Design work will continue on the new McKay Road interchange at Highway 400 and construction will begin on the rehabilitation of Hurst Drive from Cox Mill to Golden Meadow Road.
Barrie’s roads, a key priority identified by residents through the Budget Allocator Tool, will see increased funding from council.
The 2019 budget includes a $55 million investment in roads, which is 11 times more than the 2013 budget of $5 million. In response to feedback from residents about road safety, council also approved funds to purchase five LED radar speed boards to discourage speeding and improve safety. Also included is a number of innovative projects in the budget that will save money and improve service delivery.
The city will implement a Six Sigma program that will use a data-driven approach to improve processes across city departments. A review of the city’s winter road maintenance operations will aim to optimize routes, reduce costs and prepare for further growth.
In order to provide sustainable funding to manage the replacement of city vehicles in a cost-effective manner, a fleet renewal program will be introduced in 2019.
The Shift Government Program will look to tackle the root causes of issues such as public health, the opioid crisis, and homelessness by bringing innovative, proactive approaches to service delivery.
Barrie’s waterfront will also be a focus. It will see four-season improvements through additional beach and trail grooming, clean up and new equipment such as benches, picnic tables and fire pits.
These enhancements will be funded with revenues generated from tourism as a result of the new Municipal Accommodation Tax, which applies to room rentals provided by hotels, motels and inns in Barrie.
Council also approved a 3.44 per cent increase to water rates and a 3.39 per cent increase to wastewater rates. For a typical Barrie home consuming 180 cubic metres of water annually, the water bill will increase by $11.45 and the wastewater bill will increase by $15.86.
Residential property tax bill funds are allocated to city services (55 per cent), education (14 per cent, as mandated by the Province of Ontario) and Service Partners (31 per cent between the Barrie Police Service, Public Library, County of Simcoe, etc.). The Business Plan and Budget will be funded through property taxes, user fees and other financing sources.
The 2019 Business Plan & Budget is available at barrie.ca/budget.