Essex County Treasurer presents 2017 budget. February 01,2017. (Photo by Paul Pedro)

Council Okays 1.5% Increase For Roads, EMS, And Social Housing

Essex County residents will pay a little more on their property tax bill next year, but they will get new investment in roads, ambulance services, and social housing in return.

Council signed off on a 1.5% increase Wednesday night and passed its 2018 budget.

“We try to come in at zero; try to work within the tax base and the revenues that we have,” says CAO Rob Maisonville. “We know on top of that; we have to address a capital roadway expansion program… which is at 1.5% and then a half percent with regard to the hospital funding system [for the new acute care hospital].”

Maisonville says over $29-million will be invested in road rehabilitation, new roads, and the county’s active transportation network.

The next big-ticket item in the budget was for emergency medical services. It will get another $1.9-million over last year’s funding for a total of $12-million in 2018.

ems ambulance

BlackburnNews.com file photo

“That service has really been trying to maintain service levels in spite of year over year over year in demand for service and what we’ve seen is that we’re hitting that point where our response times are starting to get longer,” says Maisonville.

The EMS will hire 23 new full-time workers.

The county’s social housing stock will also get some new investments. Maisonville says the county was hoping for an investment from the federal government; part of its recently announced national housing strategy.

“We knew that the work that needed to go into the refurbishment of the housing stock was coming and we were hopeful that the feds or the province would come to the table with regards to helping with that,” says Maisonville. “They still may.”

He says the county has been putting money away over the past few years. Next year, the county will spend $2.4-million. Over the next five years, about $10-million will be spent on social housing.

The budget will mean another $14.46 for homeowners on the average house valued at $200,000.