With another municipal budget session come and gone, the City of Kingston is now ready to take on the new year.
Council huddled around the horseshoe through two long sessions Monday and Tuesday nights, hammering out the details for this year including investments in transit, housing, roads, and more.
Mayor Bryan Paterson said he feels good about his first budget under the strong mayor powers during which he was more closely involved than ever before.
“There was a lot of learning that needed to take place, certainly at my end, and I think on council’s end as well, but I think now we know that this is the process going forward,” said Paterson.
Housing and homelessness, was front and centre during this year’s budget sessions.
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The city has allotted $7.5 million to put toward affordable and supportive housing, something Coun. Brandon Tozzo is pleased to see.
“I think that will help a lot of people who are quite at the margins who have been very hurt by inflation and by the drug and opioid crisis,” said Tozzo.
Coun. Jimmy Hassan brought forward an amendment to the budget, asking that the city allocate one million dollars toward new physician and health-care worker recruitment.
“About 30,000 people in Kingston have no doctors, or are waiting for a doctor. It’s a very devastating situation and I think as a local government, that it’s our responsibility to take care of the people,” added Hassan.
However, both Hassan and Paterson said that health care is not the city’s jurisdiction and called on the provincial government for more help.
“I think it makes sense, I think it’s what the city needs to do, but at the same time, this is a provincial issue that requires a provincial government solution,” he said.
As this was the first budget session since the addition of the strong mayor powers, it was a different process than any of the councillors were used to, but Tozzo credits this group’s closeness for how smooth the budget process was.
“We kind of all worked together, and it wasn’t contentious as I’m sure some municipal councils would be where the mayor was taking on the council. I was really happy to see some of the big priorities I ran on and heard at the door put into this budget,” said Tozzo.
With the financial parameters for the year set, council will now be set to stay on budget.
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