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Early budget numbers show a nearly 9 per cent tax hike in 2016

The city is currently looking at an 8.45 per cent tax hike this year. That includes both a 2.94 mill increase, and an almost five per cent hike in assessment increases. Treasurer Jim Howie says that number is highly inflated and likely to change, but so far council hasn’t cut out too much spending. That tax increase translates to $300 per average home of $180,000.

Howie says a number of city services are looking at an increase. That includes things like the playgrounds budget going up by $1.1 million, the roads budget increasing by $1 million, building maintenance went up $442,000, and the debt repayment for the new LED lights is $400,000.

Mayor Steve Black says the number is so high because the city has a severe deficit in capital infrastructure, and that’s why department heads are asking for budget increases. But he also points out that council will have to balance that with respect to the impact on residents.

Councillor Pat Bamford says they aren’t being diligent enough in cutting things out of the budget. He says they are adding a minimum of $3 million to the capital, and they need to start getting tough on some of the decisions.

Council can decide to take a second look at those numbers throughout the budget process and cut items out to lower the tax increase. Their next meeting is on January 19th.

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