It may be a budget that some were looking for, but at least one Lambton County Councillor has called the one that was approved on Wednesday “unsustainable.”
St. Clair Mayor Steve Arnold, who did not vote for what turned out to be a 1.94% tax hike, argued that drawing from County reserves (the budget approved dips into reserves by about $4 million) doesn’t work in the long run.
“Everybody continues to talk about sustainability,” said Arnold. “Well, this is an example of an unsustainable budget the way we’re looking at it now. Somewhere along the line this budget isn’t in sync with what reality is.”
For Sarnia taxpayers, the impact will be a blended tax rate of about 2.86%, conditional upon a 3% decrease to the education tax rate. The City has approved a 4.66% increase to its own levy.
The County approved about $198 million in spending, $26 million of which is for capital projects. That includes $75,000 for a new sign to be located along Highway 402.
There is also a $39,000 budget item to cover part of the salary of a temporary project manager that will coordinate newcomer services.
Grant requests that included a book project to be done by the Sarnia Historical Society and a youth drop-in centre that was backed by several agencies did not make the list of those approved.
After the trimming and adjustments, Lambton County has $27 million in reserves.