Members of Durham Regional council have signed off on the 2019 budget.
Residents will see an average increase of 1.89 per cent on the Regional portion of their property tax bill. This amounts to an increase of approximately $51 for a home assessed at $454,000, the average across Durham.
The approved 2019 Business Plans and Budgets total roughly $1.23 billion.
“Durham Region is growing and this budget reflects council’s focus on enhancing front-line service delivery in our communities, making a tangible difference for our residents and businesses,” said Regional Chair John Henry in a media release.
“We are addressing the issues of importance to Durham Region residents—from community safety to climate change to homelessness – while continuing to maintain high-quality programs and services, and affordability of life in the region.”
“Regional departments worked together to accommodate targeted strategic investments and key priorities, while maintaining taxpayer affordability,” added Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster, chair of the Region’s finance and administration committee.
The media release states that budget highlights include investment in front-line services including policing; paramedic services; long-term care; the Region’s road and bridge networks; social services; economic development; and transit.
Residents should note that water and sanitary sewer services are not included in the property tax budget, as they are funded separately, based upon a user-pay basis.
“Our strong and continued commitment to fiscal responsibility and long-term financial planning has allowed for a budget that is sustainable and positions the Region for 2020 and beyond,” said Nancy Taylor, the Region’s commissioner of finance.
The Region’s 2019 Property Tax Supported Business Plans and Budgets include:
- Investment to meet the service demands of our growing region: 26 new police officers (including 20 front-line constables) and one civilian position, eight new paramedics, five 911 operators, and additional ambulances for our paramedic services (two new and nine replacement).
- Thirty-four (34) new spaces at the Region’s new directly operated Edna Thomson Child Care Centre in Clarington.
- A Regional roads budget of $94.5 million, an increase of $1.7 million from 2018, for projects such as:
– Road expansion projects ($42.1 million), including a roundabout at Regional Road 3 and Bowmanville Avenue in Clarington, the widening of Harmony Road (Coldstream Drive to Conlin Road) in Oshawa and various intersection improvements.
– Road rehabilitation ($35.9 million), including Saintfield Road in Scugog, Regional Road 13 in Brock, Concession Road 7 in Uxbridge, Anderson Street and Thickson Road in Whitby, and Taunton Road in Clarington;
– Bridge and structure rehabilitation and placement ($7.6 million), including Cochrane Street/CP Overpass structure (south of Rossland Road) in Whitby; and the Trent Canal Overpass and White’s Creek Bridge in Brock; and,
– Traffic control and other transportation related projects ($8.9 million).
- Support for Vision Zero, including new pavement markings, protected left-turn-only phases at selected traffic signal locations, and automated enforcement.
- The development of a Regional bike map for cyclists, complemented by four new kilometres of multi-use paths and paved shoulders.
- Development of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy to generate economic development opportunities; outlining investment opportunities and competitiveness.
- Service enhancements for Durham Region Transit (DRT), including the expansion of the OnDemand service in north Durham and an increase in Specialized Services. In addition, effective May 1, children under the age of 12 will ride free (when accompanied by a fare paying customer).
- New program funding for the Primary Care Outreach Program, which includes one new Advanced Care Paramedic and Social Worker who provide services and support to vulnerable populations, including those who are homeless/underhoused or have mental health and addiction challenges.
- The development of a new, long-term solid waste master plan to guide the region through to 2040. Public consultation sessions are scheduled for 2019.
- Funding to study the potential Pickering Airport and related aviation and aerospace employment cluster.
- Approximately $9.1 million in operational, special project, land management and special one-time project costs for the Region’s five conservation authorities.
- Investment in other initiatives, such as broadband, climate change, innovation, diversity, and a new strategic plan.