The Advanced Medical Research Institute of Canada had asked for $2 million over the next three years. The funding will help it secure federal and provincial money to move into a renovated former school on Walford Road at a cost of $15.5 million.
City councillors approved $1.75 million, and kept the property tax increase below three per cent by spreading the donation over five years, and by drawing reserve funds.
The increase means taxes are going up about $74 a year for a home assessed at $230,000, or $158 a year for a home assessed at $490,000.
All but four councillors – Mayor Marianne Matichuk, Ward 1 Coun. Joe Cimino, Ward 6 Coun. Andre Rivest and Ward 10 Coun. Frances Caldarelli – supported the budget increase. Ward 8 Coun. Fabio Belli is still recovering from a mild stroke and was absent.
Matichuk said she wouldn’t support an increase above two per cent, while Cimino and Caldarelli also said the increase was too much.
“We cannot be all things to all people,” said Caldarelli, who opposed more city funding for the medical research institute. “I sound like the Grinch, but I'm not ... I can’t support this.”
For his part, Rivest said he voted no because of his opposition to a move to increase tipping fees at landfill sites.
The total municipal budget is $502 million in 2014, of which $230 million is being raised from property taxes. The capital budget for next year is $95 million, including $38 million dedicated to road improvements. The total also includes external agencies, including Greater Sudbury Police’s $51 million budget, the Sudbury and District Health Unit operating budget $5,659,139, and the Nickel District Conservation Authority operating budget of $655,000.
Other budget options were passed, including funding for physician recruitment, increased funding for arts and culture grants, Crime Stoppers, as well as funding increases for the city’s six community centres.
The budget is expected to be formally approved by city council on Dec. 10. Tax bills should go out to landowners in May. More details can be found at www.greatersudbury.ca/budget.