Niagara Regional Council has approved a budget for 2020 that balances the need to maintain core services, deliver critical infrastructure and protect the community.
Challenged with costs downloaded from the province, required capital investments, as well as facing a need to support growth in population and employment, the budget plan issustainable, transparent and service-focused.
Three components make up Niagara Region's budget: the levy operating budget, the rate operating budgets and the capital budget.
The 2020 Niagara Region levy operating budget contains an overall property tax increase of 5.92 per cent to the taxpayer.
For the average property assessed at $277,044, the Regional portion of the tax bill will increase by $86, totalling $1,602 in 2020.
The operating budget for 2020 has been approved with a tax levy of $392.6 million and will provide funding for the daily business of Niagara Region, its boards and agencies. This budget increase allows the regional municipality to make strategic investments that support economic and residential growth and ensures Niagara’s most vulnerable citizens are cared for.
Building on recent investments aimed at supporting the community, Niagara Region will continue to enhance transit services, invest more funding in homelessness and improve public safety.
The 2020 budget includes a separate 1.54 per cent levy for the redevelopment of two long-term care facilities.
Niagara Regional Council also approved a combined rate operating budget increase of 5.15per cent for water and wastewater services. The rate increase for water and wastewater allows the regional municipality to make strategic investments in critical infrastructure that align with Asset Management Plan, Master Servicing Plan and continue to provide safe drinking water.
The budget for waste management services, which includes curbside collection, recycling and landfill sites, will see an increase of 9.9 per cent. The increase for 2020 is largely driven by new residential waste collection contracts and reflects a general province-wide trend, which has seen costs go up in other municipalities. There has also been a drop in the market prices for the sale of recyclables which reduces revenue to the Region.
In October 2019, Regional Council voted to transition to every-other-week curbside collection starting in fall 2020. This will improve waste diversion targets through increased composting and recycling and enable the Region to avoid incurring additional costs in the future compared to weekly collection.
To help drive Council’s vision, the operating budgets support a $375 million approved capital program for 2020 that includes a number of projects aimed at facilitating growth and attracting employment, as well as upgrades to critical infrastructure through the Region’s Asset Management Plan.
"Regional Council was faced with some challenging decisions on the 2020 budget, however we continued to invest in Niagara’s future through support for high quality service delivery. Whether it is housing our community, improving public transportation and infrastructure, providing clean water or delivering improved waste collection services, every consideration was taken to improve the quality of life in the region." ~ Jim Bradley, Regional Chair
"Guided by Council’s Strategic Priorities, the Region has invested in quality service delivery that will impact the lives of residents not just in 2020, but beyond. As budget chair, I look forward to how these enhancements can help shape the future of Niagara." ~ Gary Zalepa, Regional Councillor and Budget Chair
"Staff worked diligently to ensure that Council’s Strategic Priorities were considered in this budget and that residents would benefit from responsible and sustainable use of their tax dollars." ~ Todd Harrison, Commissioner of Corporate Services and Treasurer