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PRESS RELEASE2017 Business Plan & Budget Focuses on Infrastructure & Innovation
Monday, February 13, 2017

(Barrie, ON) Following a series of amendments to the City’s proposed capital and operating budget, City Council has approved a 3.09% tax increase. The increase includes a 2.09% residential tax increase for city services and a 1% increase to replace and renew more of Barrie’s roads, bridges, pipes and buildings through the Dedicated Infrastructure Renewal Fund. The increase translates into an additional $119 to the average Barrie home assessed at $302,000. 
 
“Council and staff worked hard to balance the costs of providing the services residents rely on every day with available resources, while investing in the infrastructure needed to support a modern, growing city like Barrie,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman. "Council kept the City's operating costs at historically low levels so that we could focus on investing in our bridges, roads and other infrastructure while minimizing the total cost increase to residents. We continue to focus on reducing reliance on debt and taking a ‘pay as you go’ funding approach to avoid passing the costs of projects onto our kids.” 
 
The increase to the City’s water rates was decreased to 2% from the proposed 2.5% and the sewer rate increase was reduced from 5% to 3%. On a typical household consuming 180 cubic metres of water, this represents a combined increase of $19.
 
The City’s new capital requests, which are worth $106.4 million, focus on fixing more of Barrie’s existing infrastructure while also preparing for growth in the annexed lands.  Projects to improve road conditions will be completed, including the reconstruction of Morrow Road (Ardagh to Patterson) and Mapleview Drive East (Prince William Way to Sideroad 20) with Glen Echo Drive and College Crescent Watermain and Pavement Replacement. Key Highway 400 projects will move forward, including the design of the new Harvie/Big Bay Point Road crossing, which will help alleviate traffic congestion in Barrie’s south end. Work will also begin in 2017 on key water main and sewer projects to prepare for the development of Barrie’s annexed lands. Funding for portions of these projects will be paid up front by developers to cover the growth-related development costs.
 
Neighbourhood renewal projects will focus on reconstructing aging infrastructure in some of Barrie’s historic neighbourhoods including Allandale, Queens Park and Wellington. Work will vary in each neighbourhood but will include road reconstruction, sidewalk replacement, street lighting upgrades, water main replacement, sanitary and storm sewer replacement and other upgrades. Bundling the reconstruction work together will improve service, minimize disruption to the community and reduce capital and operating costs in the long term.
 
The City continues to focus on Council’s objective of building an inclusive community by providing great public spaces. The Centennial Park Expansion will be complete in 2017. Improvements include expanding green recreational space, creating event and general recreation areas, realigning pathways, expanding parking and improving the lighting and bench locations. Construction will also progress at Barrie’s Military Heritage Park. Located along the south shore of Barrie’s waterfront, the park will depict Barrie's military history and its relationship to CFB Base Borden through various visual and tactile components. Also, plans will move forward to begin work on transforming Barrie’s downtown transit terminal into a permanent public market.
 
Council also encouraged staff to continue their efforts towards embracing innovation to improve how the City does business. Advancements in areas like energy efficiency, customer service and technology are already resulting in improvements and savings. To date, the City has avoided $1.2 million in energy costs through a number of energy-efficiency projects. Service Barrie, the City’s new customer service centre opened in November and makes it easier for residents to do business with the City by providing a single point of contact to access most City services. Additional services will be added in future phases.
 
Technology improvements are also underway that will improve the way the City delivers services to the community. One example is the City’s internally developed pothole repair app, which uses GPS technology to capture and log real-time information about potholes from the field. The 2017 Budget includes investments in significant technology projects that will modernize City processes and increase automation to provide residents and businesses with fast, simple, efficient service and an enhanced online business environment. 
 
Of the residential property tax bill, 55% funds City services, 14% funds education, as mandated by the Province, and 31% funds the City’s service partners such as the Barrie Police, Public Library and services delivered by the County of Simcoe such as Land Ambulance and Social Services.  The Business Plan & Budget will be funded by a combination of property taxes, user fees and other financing sources.
 
The 2017 Business Plan & Budget is available at www.barrie.ca/budget.


Media Contact:
Scott LaMantia
Senior Communications Advisor
The City of Barrie
(705) 739-4220 ext. 4529
scott.lamantia@barrie.ca

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