December 7, 2023 — With Mayor Mike Bradley opting not to utilize veto powers related to budget amendments, and forwarding a decision to end the veto period on Dec. 6, the City’s 2024 Budget has been officially adopted, providing continued investment into crucial infrastructure renewal and community assets in the year ahead.
Several external factors including continued inflationary pressures, rising construction costs, and a proposed 11.46 per cent increase to the Police Services Budget, posed a challenge for staff and Council in establishing a budget that not only reflects the needs of residents but also delivers on affordability. Both staff and Council utilized a wide range of available mitigation tools to limit tax rate increases while ensuring service delivery and investments in physical infrastructure can continue. Mitigation efforts reduced a potential 8.18 per cent increase to the City portion of property taxes down to 5.22 per cent.
“The City is facing many of the same economic pressures that are impacting all levels of our community and as always affordability was top of mind. While we understand this increase is somewhat larger than in previous years, we are happy to see it falling below recent annual CPI increase numbers while still delivering on investments into taxpayer-owned assets and infrastructure,” said City Treasurer Jane Qi.
Mitigation measures to limit the tax increase include utilization of $4.8 million in Operating Contingency Reserve funds; about $542,000 in insurance renewal savings; a $1.4 million reduction in transfers to the Capital Infrastructure Reserve; utilization of $2.9 million in earned interest that would otherwise have been directed to the Capital Infrastructure Reserve; reduced contributions to the Tax Stabilization Reserve by $600,000; and a $475,000 reduction to the Police Services Budget.
The $53.5 million 2024 Capital Budget will allow the City to continue an aggressive effort to invest in infrastructure renewal and improvements to community spaces, including:
- A $2 million commitment to a new Bright’s Grove Library
- About $5.2 million on City facilities and recreation spaces including arena improvements, playground equipment replacement, and park improvements
- $3.75 million in road resurfacing, the largest annual expenditure on road resurfacing in City history
- $2.5 million in shoreline protection
- $1 million in active transportation infrastructure
- $2.7 million in transit fleet replacement
- $2.5 million in zero-emission transit fleet upgrades
- About $1.2 million for flood mitigation
- About $8.7 million in combined sewer separation to protect the water system against extreme weather events
- About $2.6 million in watermain replacement, in addition to $4.6 million in ICIP-funded Vidal Street watermain replacement
The $179.53 million 2024 Operating Budget represents a 5.22 per cent increase to the City portion of property taxes, which will see the owner of a $100,000 home outside of the Transit Levy Area paying roughly $47 more in 2023. The owner of a $100,000 home inside the Transit Levy Area will pay $49 more in 2024 after a 3.33 per cent increase to the Transit Levy is factored.
A complete copy of the 2024 Budget as adopted will be available at www.sarnia.ca/Budget by Dec. 20, 2023.