At last night’s Council-in-Budget meeting, Jonathan Janzen, Director of Financial Services/Treasurer, presented the proposed 2016 Operating Budget (General Levy) to Town Council. Following a long discussion, Council and Staff adjourned the meeting at 10 p.m. and deferred discussions to next week’s Budget-in-Council meeting on Feb. 3.
According to Staff Report CBC-07-2016, Janzen recommended a 7.14 per cent increase in the town’s portion of property taxes, which would result in an overall property tax increase of 2.69 per cent when combined with Niagara Region and the boards of education.
Janzen provided Council with a review of the 2015 Operating Budget as well as discussed the opportunity to include Supplementary Budget items during last night’s meeting. The Supplementary Base Budget included several requests and recommendations made by staff and others for additional funding. The items were broken down into two categories: ongoing and one-time. These requests are not part of the Current Base Budget.
Prior to the inclusion for Supplementary Budget requests, Town Staff proposed a 0.37 per cent budget decrease to Council. Seventeen Supplementary Budget item requests, totalling $1.86 million, were presented to Council. The items were discussed in detail during the meeting however no decision was made regarding whether or not they would be included in the approved 2016 Operating Budget. According to Janzen, the Supplementary Budget items are important to the Town’s growth and would provide Council with the strategic opportunity to:
- Address the infrastructure gap through planned, responsible financing with increased capital reserve funding.
- Leverage partnership opportunities with the Region and others through the Niagara cycle route and also engage local business in growth opportunities through the enhanced Community Improvement Plan.
- Invest resources in staff training through the volunteer firefighter rate increases.
- Share resources with community partners through contributions to Canada Day fireworks and Habitat for Humanity.
- Increase organizational performance through the Fire Department operational review. Expand service to the public by enhancing physician recruitment, Emerald Ash Borer tree removal and replacement, a Battle of Ridgeway 150th Anniversary event, and additional staffing for parks and roads.
According to a Provincial study, Fort Erie has the lowest property tax in the Region for a detached bungalow ($2,915).
Last night’s presentation can be found at www.town.forterie.ca/pages/BudgetInformation.
Stay tuned for more information!