If you’re a home or property owner in Sault Ste. Marie, it’s going to cost you almost 5 percent more in 2017 to live here. Council voted for a 4.34 percent increase.
The Mayor and council spent about 5 hours Monday for budget deliberations. With an 8 to 4 vote in favour of the increase. Voting played out like this, Mayor Provenzano, Steve Butland, Paul Christian, Susan Myers, Judy Hupponen, Rick Niro, Marchy Bruni and Joe Krmpotich.
Not in favour , Lou Turco, Frank Fata, Ross Romano and Sandra Hollingsworth.
The increase will mean an extra $112 per year for a single family home (average valued at $181,000.) About 80 percent of the tax base falls into this the single family home category. Of that, about 32 percent will see a zero to $100 increase per year.
The approved budget of $108,906,000 comes with some cuts in services including eliminating summer students and not replacing retired employees. City departments sharpened their pencils to deliver over $768,000 next year. The biggest chunk coming from the Public works and transit with about $300,000 cut from their budget. Commissioner Larry Girardi wanted to reduce snow bank removal as a cost savings but council turned that down.
Corporate services will chop $219,000 out of their budget that included implementing IT hardware and eliminating the paper copy of the council agenda among other things.
The fountain located in the river along the boardwalk will be shut down.
Several rounds of other suggested cuts were either shot down by council or accepted such as removing another $200,000 from the snow removal budget a summer ditching and asphalt program and all transit services on Sundays.
An idea to borrow money for capital projects also didn’t gain any interest from council. The idea was penned by Ross Romano and Paul Christian who sought information on the cost of borrowing up to 4 million to cover capital construction projects. Council did approve a capital budget of $41 million for a number of road improvements , bridge work and sanitary sewers with possible long term debt of $8 million if the city decides to move city transit facilities and $5 million to cover windows and the cladding project at the civic centre.
Council did approve as part of the budget, funding of $200,000 a year for three years for the downtown revitalization program and the Art Gallery of Algoma will get $100,000.