“As Regional Council continues to grapple with the lingering effects of the pandemic, and the uncertainty of the future, the 2022 budget represents a balanced and responsible approach to the Region’s finances.” – Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley
News from Niagara’s Regional Government in Niagara, Ontario
Posted December 17th, 2021 on Niagara At Large
At its meeting of Dec. 16, 2021, Niagara Regional Council approved a budget for 2022 that addresses the unique challenges of the past year while ensuring our residents continue to receive the high-quality programs and services they rely on.
Three components make up the Regional budget: the levy-operating budget, rate operating budgets, and the capital budget.
Council approved an expenditure increase of $23 million for 2022. With the utilization of $6 million in reserves, the net increase totals $17 million, which maintains the property tax increase to 2.87 per cent.
For the average property assessed at $278,764 the Regional portion of the tax bill will increase by $46 totalling $1,684 in 2022.
The work Niagara Region performs every day touches the lives of our residents in profound ways, from providing clean water, roads maintenance and waste collection to public safety, housing, childcare and much more.
The Region’s financial plan for next year reflects our residents’ desire to see investments in economic growth initiatives, expansion of transit services, access to affordable housing, and to ensure Niagara continues to care for its most vulnerable citizens.
Highlights of the budget increase include $20.2 million in key investments such as:
- $2.3 million toward bridge housing and permanent supportive housing
- $4.7 million to support infrastructure for regional departments and agencies, boards and commissions
- $0.8 million toward Tax Increment Grants and Smarter Niagara Incentives Program (SNIP)
- $1.9 million contributions toward local hospital and hospice development
- $10.5 million for Niagara Regional Police Services
The operating budget for 2022 contains a tax levy of $422.3 million, which funds the daily business of the Niagara Region, its boards and agencies.
To help drive the Council’s priorities for the current term, the operating budget also supports a $327.9 million approved capital program.
The Region has allocated funding toward a number of key initiatives such as:
- $88.8 million – South Niagara Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant
- $31.5 million – Montrose Road capacity improvement to support growth in south Niagara Falls
- $19.5 million – Decew Water Treatment Plant 3 sustainability upgrades
- $12.5 million – Roads resurfacing/strengthening
- $8.3 million – Beaverdams sewage pumping station upgrade and replacement
- $8.1 million – Casablanca Boulevard Widening – Livingston to QEW
In November, Niagara Regional Council approved rate budget increases for 2022 of 5.15 per cent for water and wastewater services combined and 5.54 per cent for waste management.
The approved water and wastewater budgets are effective as of Jan. 1, 2022, and billed to the local area municipalities based on water and wastewater usage following the Council approved methodology. As the wholesaler of water and wastewater services in Niagara, the Region will bill the local municipalities, who will in-turn incorporate the new rates into resident water bills.
While every other week garbage collection was initially projected to provide approximately $1 million in cost avoidance, overall costs increased from the previous collection contract, which was awarded 11 years ago. Despite a funding strategy approved in 2019 (annual increase of 10 per cent over three years) to cover the increase in costs, staff were able to reduce the increase in 2022 to 5.54 per cent. Niagara households can expect to pay $6.85 more per year for waste management services in 2022, on average.
In addition to economic benefits, every other week garbage collection is providing environmental benefits as well. Changes in collection guidelines has diverted more than 12,000 tonnes of garbage from ending up in our landfills. The number of Niagara households setting out a Green Bin also increased by 24 per cent.
Costs for waste services are charged to municipalities based on special tax rates applied to the assessed value of households.
“As Regional Council continues to grapple with the lingering effects of the pandemic, and the uncertainty of the future, the 2022 budget represents a balanced and responsible approach to the Region’s finances. After careful consideration of dozens of reports and presentations at numerous meetings and workshops, I believe we have approved a budget that is fiscally accountable, while still maintaining the mandated and essential programs and services our residents and businesses rely upon. I want to thank staff, and Regional Council, for their hard work in delivering on this budget, and I look forward to next year with cautious optimism.” ~ Jim Bradley, Regional Chair
“Throughout this process, Council and Regional staff worked collaboratively to ensure the 2022 budget meets our community’s expectations for high quality services and takes into account the financial challenges faced by our residents and businesses in recent years. Niagara Region is committed to ensuring our community continues to thrive and succeed.” ~ Gary Zalepa, Regional Councillor and Budget Chair
“Given these uncertain times, staff have done an excellent job managing the Region’s financial pressures. Thanks to funding we received from the provincial and federal governments to help offset the impact of COVID-19 on the Region’s finances, we were able to continue to invest in needed programs, and, in the face of a pandemic, continue to meet community expectations for high-quality service.” ~ Todd Harrison, Commissioner of Corporate Services and Treasurer
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