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North Bay City Council to vote on tax increase, 3.23% possible

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City council in North Bay is closer to ironing out a final budget for 2023 and it looks as if it will mean a 3.2 per cent tax hike for property owners.

North Bay's operating budget for this year is more than $153 million and the city’s budget chief, Deputy Mayor Maggie Horsfield, said all efforts were made to avoid a big tax hike.

"When we were looking at the budget and going line by line, what we were seeing was a lot of the costs where the city was putting in an increase were areas we really couldn't say 'no,'" Horsfield said.

"Fuel costs, we need our trucks on the street, we need our snowplows out there and asphalt for the roads. Those are things we can’t go without."

At the beginning of the deliberations in February, city staff recommended the proposed levy increase be at 5.77 per cent compared to last year.

However, the city will use almost $890,000 from its reserves to bring the tax levy down as past councils have also used reserves this way.

"It's been something that they've done since 2008, dipping into reserves to help lower the levy," Horsfield said.

But she admits this strategy is not always sustainable.

"It's not a sustainable practice because at some point those reserves are going to dry up," Horsfield said.

After crunching the numbers, it's estimated that North Bay's taxpayers will see a 3.23 per cent increase on their bills. That’s about $47.35 more a year on a home assessed at $100,000.

City Councillor Gary Gardiner was hoping the tax levy increase would be lower. He said he was hoping it would end somewhere around 3 per cent range, citing the effects inflation has had on people.

"Based on the rapid inflation that we have, homeowners are trying to figure out how to make ends meet," Gardiner said.

"That would have been a good target."

Horsfield said she understands the concerns expressed from many people who are struggling with the price of gas, food and other inflated expenses.

"It’s really fair that folks want to see their taxes as low as possible," she said.

"If we want to look at those changes, it will come when the city reviews their collective bargaining as well as our administrative pay bylaws."

City council will vote next Tuesday night on whether or not it will approve both the operating and capital budget. 

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