Lincoln approves capital budget as deliberations continue

The Town of Lincoln has approved this year’s capital budget while the operating budget is still pending approval.

On Feb. 15, council gathered to talk about capital projects as part of a series of budget meetings, which will resume on Feb. 22.

The council members announced the capital budget includes 40 projects, with a total budget of $48 million.

During the meeting, Ward 2 Coun. Tony Brunet proposed removing a plan for multi-bin containers for all of the town’s facilities and some money for an education campaign for recycling and reuse.

However, Mayor Sandra Easton was not in agreement, expressing a desire for a pause in the matter, rather than removing it entirely.

Ward 1 Coun. Dianne Rintjema asked Brunet about his concerns regarding the single-use plastic item in the proposed budget. He said he believed in “prioritizing needs over wants.”

He agreed with the mayor that the item was an opportunity for education but did not think that the expenditure of $80,000 for four facilities was the best use of taxpayer dollars, given the inflationary pressures the town is facing.

After deliberations, the removal of the multi-bin plan was not approved by councillors.

Another change, the proposed Glenbrook Drive sewer replacement project, is set to complete its design work in 2023 and construction work in 2024. The project is expected to save the town $800,000 in water reserve savings in 2023.

However, the town’s director of finance, administration and innovation Lawrence Wagner said completing the project this year is “not feasible.”

Council originally approved funding for the project in 2021; the remaining $800,000 will be pushed to a future budget.

Despite the financial strain, council members said they are focusing on investments in the community that would benefit the residents in the long term.

Some of the capital projects announced are ready to go, such as the lakeshore roads and shoreline protection projects; Durham Road, Lincoln Avenue and Greenlane Road, King Street road reconstruction; and investments in the Lincoln museum.

Council had initially deliberated a list of 47 projects, and this reduction in project plans ensures a spreading out of works, allowing the budget to be lowered.

The operating budget was initially estimated to increase by 9.8 per cent, which would translate to a $172.90 increase for the average assessed house.

The blended rate — which includes the Town of Lincoln accounting for 37 per cent, Niagara Region for 51 per cent and school boards for 12 per cent of the overall tax bill — was 8.27 per cent, which could drive tax bills up by $397.05 for a home with an average $378,000 assessment.

Town staff is revising the overall levy impacts on residents and looking for a decrease in the overall levy impact based on earlier projections.

Deliberations on the operating budget continue on Feb. 22.

Beatriz Baleeiro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News