A familiar story about Milton Taxes

Who says going on vacation reduces stress?  My family just came back from a wonderful trip to Newfoundland.  The weather was amazing with the sun shining down on us more often than the clouds with a cool breeze coming in off the Atlantic Ocean.  It was Anthony’s fourth trip out to the island and Miranda’s first.  Like a trooper, she handled the flight to and from perfectly and both Pat and I were amazed.  The vacation was well overdue and included an encounter with a Minke whale…up close while fishing.  It’s something that Anthony and I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

I’ve posted a few pictures of our trip on Facebook so click on, and request an add if you’re not already a friend.

While on vacation, I did take some time to go online to the Milton Canadian Champion and read up what was going on in our beloved town.  Unfortunately some stories didn’t surprise me.  And it has to do with taxes.

As I’ve discussed many times on this blog, council had decided to go the route of spending and taxing like no other municipality in the last few years.  Sure we are under the pressures of growth and we need funds to pay for things like infrastructure to keep us moving.  Ever since this new council has been elected, we as taxpayers have been subjected to year after year of tax increases.

2010 and 2011 are looking to be the same.

In this article published in the Champion July 31st, they discuss the proposed tax increase for Milton taxpayers in the range of 7.5% to 9.5%.  This means another increase of roughly $40 per household over $300,000.  It’s the same old story played out again and again and again with the same result.  Silence.

The argument you end up getting from council is that “its only $30 or $40”   My response is that if it’s only $30 or $40, then work at finding the savings somewhere.

The last council was elected in 2006 and from that point on taxes have gone up at an alarming rate.  2007 budget increased by 3.0%…2008 budget increase was 2.5%…2009 budget increase was 4.5%.  And now the town staff is recommending a 7.5% increase?

Many of you know that council has received 3 pay increases since taking office in 2007.  Salary for the local council position was approximately $21.000 in 2006 and they are now $28,000.  Benefits have increased and the costs of paying our local officials have increased as well.

As outlined in the article, the main reason for the increase is…salaries and benefits.

“Part of the forecasted increase for the next two years is due to the estimated $1.5 million in extra salary and benefits for existing employees, along with an estimated half million dollars for new employees, according to the 2009 budget documents.

The Town recently bargained three three-year agreements with unionized staff. The 29 unionized staff of the Town’s fire department will receive annual 3 per cent pay hikes this year and the next two years.”

The main reason for the increase is salaries and benefits.  There’s another city out there that is having severe financial issues due to problems with salaries and benefits…the City of Toronto.

I’m not sounding the alarm bells yet with Milton, don’t get me wrong.  We are not at that stage yet…far from it.  But if we don’t get a handle on the town purse soon, there will be issues.

Town Council has spent a lot of money in the last few years which includes a wasted investment of over $3 million dollars in Milton Transit.  Just imagine if they had been smarter and not spent that money.  If $ 1.5 million in increased salaries and benefits represents a majority of this tax increase, what could have $3 million dollars done?  We wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Council’s priorities are off.  They are not looking at the future impact of their decisions and if this lack of focus continues, we are going to be having more conversations like this in the future. 

Tax increases can be justified and most people grin and bear it.  Most people don’t have a problem with it if that increase makes sense.  The last 4 years of increases can’t be justified.  They simply haven’t been smart with their spending and don’t show any signs of improvement.

It’s just another $30 or $40.  Justify it then.

Comments

  1. Vishal August 18, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Mike,

    I read the same article and thought about the transit debacle as well.

    Please tell us that youre running for council next year! Someone has to stand up and say no more wasteful spending.

  2. Zeeshan Hamid August 18, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    The only way to control salaries and benefits is this: http://www.zhamid.ca/opinion/milton-council-and-their-salaries/

  3. Taxed to death August 18, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    No matter what council says, they are spending too much money on the wrong things.

    Its our fault as taxpayers for bitching and complaining about it but then when it counts, do nothing and not vote. We only have ourselves to blame. The old guard stands tall, and the only new face on council is more concerned with bungee jumping for fundraising.

    Next years the election…maybe things will change. I doubt it.

  4. Tim August 19, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Hi Mike,

    Just a quick note to clarify something: the 7.5% quoted in my article is not the staff recommendation (that won’t be known until Monday night). IT is the forecasted increase included in the operating budget forecast as part of the 2009 budget.

    Hi Tim. Thanks for the clarification on the the details. I appreciate it! – Mike

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