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Sarnia budget raises taxes 2%, targets roads and infrastructure

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Troy Shantz

Sarnia council approved a budget today that will increase taxes 2% and directs a whopping $61.8 million to capital improvements, including the largest volume of road resurfacing in city history.

Councillors did some belt-tightening before approving the $155.8-million 2021 spending package, a job aided in part by unspent COVID-19 relief funding.

The bottom line for residential property owners: an additional $17.34 in taxes on each $100,000 of assessment.

Items council axed on the chopping block included $600,000 for an outdoor skating rink in Centennial Park, and $750,000 to dredge the mouth of Cow Creek in Bright’s Grove. Council instead approved $50,000 dredging assessment and report.

A $50,000 disc golf course was also cut.

“If ever there was a year to concentrate on our basic priorities, this is the year,” said Coun. Mike Stark.

Fees for service were held at current levels and year-over-year increases on fees charged to businesses eliminated.

But council did not support Coun. Bill Dennis’ push for a zero tax increase by using money from reserves.

A tax freeze “would impact just about every department in the city,” treasurer Holly Reynolds noted.

An ambition program to address aging infrastructure includes a record $18.2 million for Sarnia’s crumbling roads and bridges.

Another $3.2 million will be spent repairing the Lake Huron shoreline, which has collapsed in places because of rusted out seawalls and record high water levels.

Another $350,000 was approved to demolish the Germain Park Arena, which has been empty since 2015.

Sidewalk snow removal will stay unchanged. A $500,000 proposal to add equipment and hire contractors to clear all city sidewalks was rejected. Instead, staff will look into a volunteer program to assist seniors and residents with mobility issues.

Chris Hadfield Airport, which lost its commercial airline flights this year, will get $360,000 to continue operating next year.

Council approved two grant requests: $80,000 to the Sarnia Lambton Taskforce on Healthcare Worker Recruitment, and $8,200 to Heaven’s Wildlife Rescue Rehabilitation & Education Centre.

A cycling safety campaign will get $20,000 from an existing budget.

Also approved was the hiring of one new firefighter and two city staff.








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