Barrie’s 2019 operating/capital budget features hikes in property taxes and water/wastewater rates

After all the deliberations and amendments, it comes down to this: Barrie city council approved an operating 2019 budget of $343 million, and a capital budget budget of $263.6 million.
That relates to a property tax increase of 1.88 per cent, plus a one per cent increase for the Dedicated Infrastructure Renewal Fund, used to replace and renew Barrie’s roads, pipes and buildings, bringing the total to 2.88 per cent.
“This budget takes a significant step forward in tackling Barrie’s infrastructure deficit,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman.
“For the second year in a row, we’ve kept the increase to operating costs below two per cent so we can invest more in fixing our infrastructure, facilitating affordable housing and preparing for growth. Yet there are also a lot of innovative projects in this budget that will improve how the City delivers services and save money.”
For the average Barrie home assessed at $336,000, this increase translates to an additional $124 annually. 
Council also approved a 3.44 per cent increase to water rates and a 3.39 per cent increase to wastewater rates. For a typical Barrie home consuming 180 cubic metres of water annually, the water bill will increase by $11.45 and the wastewater bill will increase by $15.86.
Key projects in the 2019 capital budget include:
• the continuation of the Barrie–Simcoe Emergency Services Campus, which is scheduled to open in 2020
• the Harvie Road crossing of Highway 400
• the widening of Mapleview Drive East from Country Lane to Yonge Street and the Road Resurfacing Program.
• Design work will continue on the new McKay Road interchange at Highway 400 and construction will begin on the rehabilitation of Hurst Drive from Cox Mill to Golden Meadow Road. 
Improvements to Barrie’s roads was a key priority identified by residents through the online Budget Allocator Tool. The 2019 budget includes a $55 million investment in roads, 11 times more than the 2013 budget of $5 million. In response to feedback from residents about road safety, council also approved funds to purchase five LED Radar Speed Boards to discourage speeding and improve safety.  
The City also plans to implement a Six Sigma program that will use a data-driven approach to improve processes across City departments. A review of the City’s winter road maintenance operations will aim to optimize routes, reduce costs and prepare for further growth.
A fleet renewal program will be introduced in 2019 to provide sustainable funding to manage the replacement of City vehicles in a cost-effective manner, and the Shift Government project will tackle the root causes of issues such as public health, the opioid crisis, and homelessness by bringing innovative, proactive approaches to service delivery.
Barrie’s waterfront will see four-season enhancements through additional beach and trail grooming, clean-up and new equipment such as benches, picnic tables and fire pits. The enhancements will be funded with revenues generated from tourism as a result of the new Municipal Accommodation Tax, which applies to room rentals provided by hotels, motels and inns in Barrie. 
Residential property tax bill funds are allocated to City services (55%), education (14% as mandated by the Province) and Service Partners (31% between the Barrie Police Service, Public Library, County of Simcoe, etc.). The Business Plan & Budget will be funded through property taxes, user fees and other financing sources.
The 2019 Business Plan & Budget is available at barrie.ca/budget.

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