BARRIE, ONT. -- Councillors have signed off Barrie's budget for the year ahead, a spending plan the city boasts includes the lowest tax increase in 20 years.

Council approved a tax hike of 0.92 percent. City staff had recommended a 3.8 percent bump.

Before Monday's meeting, Mayor Jeff Lehman explained that the ongoing pandemic pinch motivated the smaller increase.

"Council was very concerned with the economic conditions in COVID, that we do everything possible to lower the tax increase, but not cut services," Lehman said.

"This is very much a stay the course budget."

The tax hike will cost the average household $40.71 more a year. Water rates will rise in May by 2.48 percent, adding $8.83 to the average bill.

The spending plan earmarks cash for safer roads, a new library branch in the Holly area, and more outdoor furniture for the city's parks and waterfront.Barrie city council signs off on budget, 0.92% tax increase