Lambton County Council deliberating the 2018 budget in Wyoming. March 7, 2018 (Photo by Melanie Irwin)

County Councillors Want Tax Hike Held To Inflation

Lambton County Council has put off finalizing the 2018 budget, telling staff to achieve a bottom-line tax increase in keeping with the rate of inflation.

Staff are to present options for a 1.8% hike when councillors continue budget deliberations March 22 in Wyoming.

“With the amount of years that we’ve always been over inflation, I just believe it’s time that we rein in on spending,” says Enniskillen Township Mayor Kevin Marriott. “Everybody else has to live to 1.8%. I believe that we should be living at that rate of inflation every year. I just don’t see that rational of always being or ever being over the rate of inflation.”

General Manager of Finance, Facilities and Court Services John Innes says the county’s draft budget currently is at $213.8-million.

“The budget as currently presented is what’s required to maintain the existing levels of service that the county provides to the people of Lambton,” says Innes. “What we’re going to have to do now, is take a look at the budget and see what potential service reductions could be contemplated that would allow the council to reduce the funding necessary for the tax base and reduce the tax rate for 2018.”

Council approved giving Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital $1.05-million over ten years for the purchase of a new x-ray suite for diagnostic imaging Wednesday morning.

Council threw The Hub a lifeline, approving $75,000 in one-time funding for the facility for at-risk youth while efforts continue to secure sustainable funding.

$300,000 in spending, to be paid each year for the next four years, has been committed to the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership to refill two existing board-approved staff positions.

Tourism Sarnia-Lambton will receive $35,000 to cover increased rent and utility costs and Community Living Sarnia-Lambton will get the $49,000 requested to purchase a van with a side-access or rear entry wheelchair ramp.

Lambton County Council has also agreed to further investigate the establishment of a multi-use convention centre in the Sarnia/Point Edward area. A project steering committee will be established.

Funding requests from the Deker Bauer Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Sarnia-Lambton Crime Stoppers were denied.