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Niagara Region passes 2% budget

Niagara Regional Council approved its 2017 budget of $1.1 billion last Thursday.

The budget represents a two per cent increase on the regional portion of property tax bills next year. For the average household with a home assessed at $240,500, that’s $28 more, for a total now of $1,427 a year.

The budget includes:
• $906,000 to fund a new 24/7 shift of paramedics to serve Niagara’s residents
• $361,000 to help make Niagara Specialized Transit more affordable by bringing fares into parity for traditional transit
• $765,000 for inter-municipal transit infrastructure funding

Regional Council also approved the 2017 capital budget of $206 million to support the following significant infrastructure projects:
• $30 million towards the implementation of daily GO rail service to Niagara
• $8 million to upgrade and improve Niagara social housing stock
• $12.5 million for general road resurfacing and repair
• $12 million to begin the planning and design for the redevelopment of three of Niagara Region’s long-term care homes
• $14 million to provide new water infrastructure to support population growth in Grimsby

While Grimsby Reg. Coun. Tony Quirk said there were positives in the budget, he was not completely happy with the result.

“I was disappointed that council chose to add an arbitrary 1 per cent capital levy without a complete asset management plan, debt management plan, development charge update and reserve limit policy contrary to the original guidance set at the beginning of the summer,” said Quirk.

“This extra levy was above guidance and pre-mature. At the very least, I persuaded council to segregate these funds and name it the “Council Mandated Infrastructure Deficit Reduction Fund” so that it doesn’t just become a slush fund going towards a staff wish list.

Quirk is pleased to see planned work on Reg. Rd. 81 in the east end, GO Station infrastructure, a west end hub study, Main Street beautification, and integrated inter-municipal transit which will allow Grimsby to move forward more quickly with any local transit plans.

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