Thunder Bay taxes slated to go up by 2.9 per cent
Numerous user fees to increase in 2018
Taxpayers in Thunder Bay, Ont., can expect their property tax bills to go up by 2.9 per cent in 2018.
The city released its proposed budget for the year on Wednesday, about a month earlier than normal. The idea is to have the city budget finalized by February.
"Ideally we would stay below the level of inflation," said Frank Pullia, a city councillor who has headed up the city budget process for the past couple of years.
Pullia said a reduction in provincial transfer payments means the city has to find savings, or increase taxes.
"If we didn't have the reduction of the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund, [the increase] would be less than two per cent right now."
Pullia said the city has lost $20 million in assessment over the last five years, and has found $10 million in internal savings to help keep tax increases at a minimum.
Additional ambulance, road work
Pullia said one key piece of this year's budget is the addition of an ambulance on the road.
Currently, the city has many periods where there is no ambulance available to respond to calls.
"We are looking at some real needs in emergency services, with an aging population, we know our EMS is many times operating with Code Black, so we are investing heavily into public safety and road maintenance."
The increase includes hiring eight new paramedics, as well as a mental health coordinator for Superior North EMS.
Other budget priorities for the year include:
- 20 road improvement contracts
- Main St. Bridge refurbishment at $4.2M
- Drone for Thunder Bay Police for $95,000, which includes thermal camera
- Junior solicitor to help out with legal backlog for $125,000
- Recommendations from Seven Youth Inquest, including new transit pass, $168,000
- Snow clearing rebate for seniors, $80,000
- Completing the refurbishment of Balmoral Avenue is not slated for this year — but at this time is scheduled for the 2020 construction season.
- Four-laning a section of Junot Avenue is still deferred for another construction season. This project was started years ago, but has been put on hold while the city completed other capital projects dealing with flooding and stormwater.
Increasing user fees
Some of the notable increases come from user fees, which tend to increase on an annual basis.
Water and sewer rates will go up by three per cent, while tipping fees at the landfill site will increase by the same amount.
Docking a boat at the marina will jump five per cent, and other user fees will go up at the Canada Games Complex, city arenas and child care centres.
Other fees will also go up for zoning and official plan amendments, as well as rentals of various city facilities.
The increases will help pay for capital improvements at city buildings, and also support the equivalent of eight full time jobs. The community services division will see a reduction of five staff.
City council will pour over the budget at three special budget meetings in January.
- A previous version of this story indicated work on Balmoral Street was slated for the 2019 construction season. It is scheduled to start in the 2020 season.Jan 04, 2018 9:08 AM ET