A combination of financial pruning and an uptick in residential assessment will hold the 2017 municipal tax levy increase in St. Thomas to 2.31%.
City council Monday approved both the operating and capital budgets for this year following a series of three working sessions held last month at city hall.
At the time of those meetings, the draft budget required a municipal tax levy increase of 3.44 per cent. However an additional $550,000 in levy will be raised this year on residential assessment growth over 2016, resulting in a tax levy of $50.4 million, an increase of 2.31 per cent.
Proposed capital projects this year total $36.4 million in expenditures.
Some of the more significant projects include: $11.4 million for an outdoor recreation complex in the city’s north end; $8 million for five major road, sewer, water reconstruction projects; $2.1 million in road rehabilitation; and $2.1 million for the Gateway Project (replacing the Wellington /Talbot/Sunset intersection with a roundabout); and $1.1 million for restoration of the Dance Pavilion in Pinafore Park.
Projects shelved for this year include: $2.4 million for reconstruction of a runway at St. Thomas Municipal Airport; $100,000 for lily pond dredging in Waterworks Park; and $200,000 for air conditioning at the former Wellington Street Public School.
The operating portion of the budget will see $120.5 million in gross expenditures this year.
While most city departments managed to hold budget increases to 2-3 per cent for 2017, there were notable exceptions.
The budget for the city manager’s department will increase by 15.1 per cent to $402,000 and the city clerk’s office will see a 16 per cent increase to $421,000.
The planning department – 8 per cent over it’s budget in 2016 – will see a 12.1 per cent increase this year.
Both the police and fire departments kept their operating budget increases to 0.2 per cent or less, although that could be impacted by unexpected overtime charges.