City of Sarnia Finance Director Lisa Armstrong unveils 2018 draft budget during a media presentation. November 3, 2017 (Photo by Melanie Irwin)

City Draft Budget Just Shy Of $140M

The City of Sarnia’s 2018 draft budget amounts to $139.7-million and calls for a property tax increase of almost 5%.

The draft, unveiled at city hall Friday morning, calls for $76.1-million to be raised through taxation — an increase of 4.7%.

General operating expenditures amount to almost $73.9-million while police costs are just over $25.5-million.

Excluding county and education levies, Finance Director Lisa Armstrong says that represents an increase of $41 per $100,000 of residential assessment on the municipal portion of the property tax bill.

“We have some key drivers in the budget, there is a breakdown which includes staffing costs, the police budget, as well as the Sarnia General Hospital sale agreement and the new debt that will be issued associated with that,” says Armstrong.

She says further increases in salaries and wages, benefits and insurance premiums have pushed staffing costs higher.

Armstrong says there are no fee increases proposed for Sarnia Transit users. However, a $1 increase for every $100,000 of residential assessment is proposed for residents who pay the transit levy.

The 2018 draft capital budget, which does not include any new debt or address the city’s $255-million infrastructure backlog, totals $25.8-million.

$6-million is proposed for Donohue Bridge work, $4.5-million to continue upgrading the city’s sewers and $2-million for road resurfacing and reconstruction.

Funding the first $2-million of a $4.4-million dollar replacement of the police communication system is also proposed.

Detailed budget books will be available to the public and issued to Sarnia council November 9.

City council’s budget deliberations are set for December 5.