The Niagara Region approved its 2018 budget of $1.1 billion on Friday, bringing with it a two per cent increase on the regional portion of residents’ property tax bills.
For the average household, with a home assessed at $248,200, the regional portion of their tax bill will increase by $28 in 2018, totalling $1,461 a year.
“The budget approved last night strikes a balance between taxpayer affordability, maintaining critical services and infrastructure and making investments in strategic areas that will support a more prosperous Niagara,” said a Region media release.
“The operating budget provides funding for the Region’s programs and services and pays for investments that support economic prosperity, quality of life and our natural environment.”
Some of the 2018 budget investments include: an increase in front-line police officers; an additional 24-hour ambulance, to provide quality and timely paramedic service that is experiencing annual increases in emergency call volume; additional funding to support Niagara Specialized Transit; funding to continue with the consolidation of public transit across the region; funding to combat the emerald ash borer issue on property owned by Niagara Region; initial budget allocation in support of the 2021 Canada Summer Games.
Regional Council also approved the 2018 capital budget of $189 million to support the following significant projects: $15 million towards needed upgrades at the Port Dalhousie Wastewater Treatment Plant; $9.5 million for general road resurfacing and repair; $3 million for new busses to support enhancements to Niagara’s inter-municipal transit service; and $9.5 million to support affordable housing through Niagara Regional Housing.
Niagara Region staff and council came to the two per cent increase in a special budget meeting, the release said.
“This budget, as with the others passed by this term of council, provides the funds needed to ensure we can meet our commitments and take advantage of opportunities while keeping property taxes as affordable as possible,” said Regional Chair Alan Caslin.
“As Budget Chair, I believe the 2018 budget puts the affordability of our ratepayers first, while still continuing to fund the things that our residents rely on every day.”