Grimsby council approves 2021 budget

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Grimsby council has approved the 2021 budget, the focus for which is “Helping Grimsby Emerge Stronger,” per the budget presentation.

The levy for the Town of Grimsby has gone up 1.81 per cent. According to the presentation, the total increase for the average home valued at $443,686 will be $84 in 2021. That increase is broken down as follows: $21 for the local town portion, $53 for Niagara Region, and an additional $10 for a special levy to help fund West Lincoln Memorial Hospital.

The hospital levy will continue to increase until 2023 as Grimsby prepares to cover its $11.8-million local share of financing for the roughly $200-million new hospital. In 2024, the town will take on a 30-year debenture with enough base budget to pay the debt payments associated with the debenture, as at that point there will no longer be a yearly increase of 0.83 per cent.

Steve Gruninger, director of finance/treasurer of Grimsby, along with chief administrative officer Harry Schlange, presented the budget to Grimsby council on Feb. 23. This year, the total operating budget for the Town of Grimsby is set at $24.7 million, and the total capital budget is set at $13.2 million. The levy increase is coming from the operating side, with staff proposing a zero per cent increase for the capital budget after assessment growth.

According to Gruninger, a focus for this year’s budget would be developing Grimsby’s downtown. Two major developments include the construction of a pedestrian square gathering place, as well as the continuation of the patio program.

Improvements to the Casablanca QEW interchange, parks, shoreline protection and even the public library are all things included in this year’s budget. Grimsby Mayor Jeff Jordan said, “I’m happy with staff putting together a budget that certainly is relatively low in cost increase.” He said that, considering all the development plans included in the budget, he believes this budget gives Grimsby “our bang for our buck.”

Not included in this year’s budget, however, is a dedicated communications resource or an infrastructural levy, as (per Gruninger) “financially, we didn’t think it was the right time to introduce these initiatives.” The purchase of a new fire truck will also be set aside for now, as the town is currently looking at a shared fire service with the Town of Lincoln.