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Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs

Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs says he's pleased with the proposed city budget for 2012.

City councillors had their first look at the budget at a special meeting Tuesday night, when it was revealed the proposed tax and water increase combined would cost the average homeowner about $10 more a month this year.

Hobbs said much of the increase is for needed roadwork.

"If you took away the enhanced infrastructure renewal program — of $37 to the taxpayers' bill — and you took away the tax change due to reassessment, you'd have a $17 reduction in taxes this year," he said.

Most councillors agreed city management did a good job of keeping tax and rate increases to a minimum, but there was some criticism.

Councillor Paul Pugh said administration didn't mention how to support large industry in the city and added that too much attention is paid to what's been called "the knowledge economy."

"We should beware of being taken in by passing fads," he said. "Because we're talking about the future of the city. And, it's important to look at reality and not just jargon and the current mantra."

Pugh said industries like Bombardier and the grain elevators still make up a large portion of Thunder Bay's tax base.

Councillor Aldo Ruberto asked numerous questions about the water rates.

Budget chair and city councilor Mark Bentz eventually had enough.

"If you have problems with the water rate [or] taxation levels, put amendments on the floor during the budget," he said. "Don't tell us what you think, show us what you want in a resolution."

The public will have its chance to tell council what it thinks on Feb. 7, at 6:30 p.m., at city hall.