Residents will see a two percent rate increase in Simcoe County taxes next year. That means if you own a house assessed at $300,000 you will pay an additional $18 in 2016 for County services including paramedics, affordale housing, garbage and organics collection and roads.
Councillors recommended approving the budget increase today, after an hour long debate. The decision will need to be rubber-stamped at a council meeting in two weeks.
The cities of Barrie and Orillia will approve their own budgets.
Rising costs were identified in solid waste management, social services and paramedics, including a new Rapid Response Vehicle to service Ramara Township, with the goal of reducing emergency response times in the area.
Currently, Ramara Township residents sometimes wait up to 20 minutes for an ambulance.
A new SUV will cost approximately $106,000 - $40,000 for the base vehicle and $60,000 in modifications and equipment. It will be manned 12-hours a day by one paramedic who can help to stabilize patients. It is not a transport vehicle, however, and an ambulance will be dispatched to emergency calls
Also, there will be an increase to affordable housing spending as a new 10-year Affordable Housing & Homelessness Prevention Strategy recently approved by council.
Councillor Mary Small-Brett, Mayor of Adjala-Tosorontio, supported the increase.
"Let's trust our staff to find savings and if they don't need the two per cent, there will be a surplus at the end of the year," she said.
Councillor James Leduc, deputy mayor of Bradford-West Gwillimbury argued against the two per cent hike, saying he could only support one per cent.
Springwater Township Mayor Bill French suggested achieving a one per cent increase, but his motion was defeated with only five councillors in favour.
"I'm actually pretty happy with the budget," said County Warden Gerry Marshall. "As a council we are heading in the right direction."
Capital costs approved include $813,000 toward construction of a paramedic station in Orillia and speeding up line painting projects on County roads.