Council Approves Another Tax Increase 3.04%

Here is an article from the Milton Canadian Champion with a very brief summation of the budget committee meeting this past Monday at Milton Town Hall.  The meeting went on for over 4 hours and our initial goal was to be at 2.95% increase or lower but it went in the other direction.

There were three main items that council approved that helped send this increase in the budget over the rate of inflation (which is the number I normally support).  The items include an increase increase for parking control because of the change in policy from 3 hour parking to 5 on Milton streets ($55,000), Saturday transit service starting in September 2013 (4 months $76,000) and finally an infrastructure reserve “levy” so to speak ($100,000 every year).

During the budget debate I opposed these three measures (Saturday transit service you can find in another blog entry) and the other two items listed I didn’t support and were subject to a recorded vote.  I did find it interesting that a councillor who voted in support of the transit & parking control measures (which amounted to $133,000 or just over 1.0% of the budget) ended up voting against the budget as a whole.  If they had NOT supported this measure I can understand voting against it.  Isnt that like having your cake and eating it too?

I’ll be posting more on this and other issues as we get closer to Monday night’s council meeting (my birthday by the way 🙂 ) and no doubt these and other items will be discussed over the next year.

Proposed Town budget to go to council next week

After spending hours debating what to include in the Town’s 2013 budget, members of the budget committee Monday night approved a 3 per cent tax hike for urban residents and a 3.05 per cent tax hike for rural residents.

If the budget passes next week, the average rural resident and urban resident will pay an extra $23.17 and $26.46 respectively on a home assessed at $350,000.

The budget committee voted 6-5 in favour of the proposed budget. Councillors and staff spent the night crunching the numbers in an attempt to meet or lower the staff’s recommended hike of 2.95 per cent.

Voting in favour of approving the budget were councillors Colin Best, Sharon Barkley, Cindy Lunau, Arnold Huffman, Rick Di Lorenzo and Zeeshan Hamid.

Voting against it were Mayor Gord Krantz, councillors Rick Malboeuf, Tony Lambert, Greg Nelson and Mike Cluett.

Hamid said it was a complicated budget to work with.

“I don’t think any one of us are happy with what we have, but it’s a compromise,” he said.

“I’m hoping that we recognize that we all came up with this document collectively.”

Krantz said he had hoped for the increase to be closer to the inflation rate of about 2 per cent.

An infrastructure renewal reserve fund was added to the budget Monday night to address future needs. An initial $100,000 to establish the fund increased the proposed tax hike from 2.75 per cent to about 3 per cent.

Barkley argued that the difference Milton residents would be paying next year is a few dollars extra.

Other amendments, additions and deletions to the budget include:

• Allowing the library to open a half hour earlier at a cost of $16,448.

• Permitting the main library to be open on Mondays at a cost of $69,702.

• Discontinuing the Talk of the Town publication, which will save the Town $12,000

• Reducing the budget for catch basin cleaning, which will save the Town $20,000

• Cutting the number of councillors who attend the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference to the mayor and three other councillors, which will save the Town $8,000.

The capital portion of the budget projects a $65.4 million investment in about 100 projects related to new infrastructure and the rehabilitation of existing assets like facilities, roads, bridges, parks and equipment. About 82 per cent of the investment would go to projects to address the current and future needs of the community while 18 per cent of the investment would go to the renewal and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure.

The operating part of the budget, which looks after the delivery of services required to meet the needs arising from growth in the community and to support the quality of life that residents expect, is projected at around $94.4 million. It’s divided among the Town’s departments, with engineering services, community services and planning and fire departments providing the most direct services to the community.

Enhancements include hiring five additional fulltime firefighters at the new James Snow Parkway station, improved economic development resources to develop an innovation centre, extended transit services to include Saturdays, and parking enforcement to accommodate a proposed five-hour parking regulation.

Town staff said Milton continues to have one of the lowest tax rate in Halton and Peel regions.

The Town’s portion of the overall property tax bill is now estimated at 31 per cent. The regional and education taxes are proposed to make up 43 per cent and 26 per cent respectively.

That means Miltonians could see an overall tax increase of 1.61 per cent in the urban area and 1.57 per cent in the rural area on their 2013 property tax bills.

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