City embraces trees - St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Region, Sun Media - Ontario, CA
The draft 2011 operating budget is scheduled to be debated and approved by city councillors on Monday night, after a public meeting set for 6:30 p.m. in the third floor council chambers at city hall.
The draft budget shows the average homeowner will pay $1,166 in city property taxes this year, an increase of 2.95% or $33, based on an average house assessed at a market value of $196,750.
City treasurer Shelley Chemnitz said almost all of this year's tax increase will be going to fund new initiatives such as the Kiwanis aquatic centre, the Kiwanis artifi- cial-turf field and the performing arts centre.
Two other items getting funding boosts are transit and trees, said Chemnitz, which is in keeping "with what residents have spoken out about at various open houses. They overwhelmingly spoke for trees and Sunday (bus) service."
Budget committee members are recommending $257,000 for the first phase of an increase in Sunday bus service, which will start in May, and are recommending the city increase its forestry budget by $629,400.
Most of that money -- $469,400 -- will be spent to begin dealing with the backlog of tree trimming, tree removal and tree stumping, but the remainder --$160,000 -- will more than double the amount of money the city spends on planting trees.
Both the tree planting and the tree trimming are part of an ambitious new Urban Forestry Management Plan that has been drafted at the request of council.