Windsor budget

The 2018 budget process is underway at Windsor City Hall.

Council is meeting Monday and Tuesday to review how best to spend nearly $1-billion this year.

City staff initially tabled a budget calling for a 2.6 per cent increase to property tax. But Mayor Drew Dilkens says he’s confident council can get that number below the rate of inflation, around one per cent.

That would add about $40 more on the average homeowner’s tax bill.

Council is reviewing the operating budget on Monday before reviewing the six-year capital budget that will deal with $644-million of spending on Tuesday. More than half of that total will be spent on roads and sewers.

Monday’s meeting included several requests from community organizations and residents. Some of the items on their wish list include more money for alley lighting, bulk item pick-up, syringe disposal and other initiatives to clean up the city.

“I know that I personally don’t feel safe in the alleyway behind my home once dusk hits,” said ward 3 resident Emily Shurter. “It becomes impossible to know if there are other people in the alley or the alley connecting to it, and I think it should be a top priority for the city to help people to feel safe in their neighbourhoods.”

Council members will also discuss the 2018 proposed Enhanced Capital Budget.

Dilkens says he has received about $28-million in requests, but the budget only includes $10-million to be shared among all wards.

The process has been a bone of contention over the past two budgets – especially for Rino Bortolin, Bill Marra, Chris Holt and Irek Kusmierczyk. The other six council members raked in 90 per cent of funds in the previous two enhanced capital budgets.

Mayor Dilkens is looking for funds to spend on city themes and districts, to pay for equipment upgrades for the Windsor International Film Festival, and to make Peche Island in Riverside more accessible by having a boat take people to the hidden gem.

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