Milton Canadian Champion Reports On Possible 4.41 % Increase

Here is the Champions take on the meeting last Monday. When the title says taxes could rise by 4.4%, it means that staff has assessed current services already provided combined with the MPI (Municipal Price Index) could result in a budget increase of 4.4%

This total doesnt include new services that will be debated throughout the year and at budget time by the budget committee/council.

Some of the other items I brought up at the meeting was a request to staff to not only consider the MPI, but also to take into consideration the CPI, inflation etc that is being projected for the next year as well.  The US economy isnt moving forward (in fact in some cases seems to be moving backwards) fast enough and could easily slip into a further recession putting extreme pressures on our economy as well.

There are way too many factors in play to consider Canada’s economy and local economy’s out of the woods yet.  This is why we have to tread carefully in our 2012 budget process and keep taxpayers in mind with potential budget increases and the effects on their pocketbooks.

I also confirmed with staff during the meeting that the hospital tax levy installed on your 2011 tax bill IS included in that amount.  Should the budget committee and in turn town council decide to remove the levy from the tax bill and find other sources of funding for the hospital expansion fund, the overall increase in current services will be lower.

Its important that taxpayers know of all the options available to council during this process and send their input to their respective councillor.  This measure passed with no public input whatsover during the 2011 budget debate and I, along with a number of my collegues heard from you.  Some supported the measure and many opposed it.  The common theme I heard from taxpayers was they were not told about it and they voiced their displeasure.  As reported in the survey 40% of respondents supported the levy (actual number 71) while 38% opposed (actual number 68) leaving 21% (actual number 37) unsure, it by no measure is a mandate for council to continue this levy without extensive feedback from the community.

You will see at the end of the article, an announcement of the informal budget input session slated for Monday July 11th at Milton Sports Centre (Room 4) starting at 7pm.  If you cant make it, please email me your comments, questions and concerns to mike@mikecluett.ca

http://www.insidehalton.com/community/milton/article/1033206

Taxes could rise by 4%

Christina Commisso, Milton Canadian Champin

A 4 per cent tax hike, but no increased services.

That’s the gist of the budget call report presented to the Town’s administration and planning committee Monday.

Town staff have estimated a 4.41 per cent tax hike is needed next year to maintain existing service levels in town.

The report aims to provide guidelines and direction for preparing next year’s budget, and if this week’s meeting was a preview of things to come, the 2012 budget deliberations could be heated.

The first question posed to Town Treasurer Linda Leeds following her short presentation was what the impact of removing the 1 per cent hospital levy, introduced in the 2011 budget, would have.

“The hospital tax levy was a pretty contentious issue,” said Ward 6 Councillor Mike Cluett.

He was one of five councillors who voted against the levy, which narrowly passed by a 6-5 vote in January.

Leeds said the report assumes the 1 per cent levy would continue in 2012 and it wouldn’t result in a tax increase. She said if the hospital tax wasn’t carried forward, it would result in a tax decrease.

Councillor Cindy Lunau quickly reminded those in attendance that funding the local share of the Milton District Hospital expansion, when it’s approved by the Province, is a reality council will have to one day deal with.

“To remove the hospital levy would result in a decrease in the overall tax rate, but we certainly had comments around this table that there’s nothing more important we should be putting our tax money towards than the hospital…As we get to that point, let us hope we have some idea where the money for the hospital will be coming from.”

Added Councillor Rick Di Lorenzo, “I can go down the list and if we remove everything we added last year, every program and service, that would also mean the tax increase would be lower than 4.41 per cent,” he said.

Councillor Sharon Barkley reminded council members the point of the report is to provide Town staff with budget direction, “and I’m not sure if we’re doing that,” she said. She asked Leeds what a 4 per cent increase in municipal taxes would mean on her tax bill. As the Milton share of the property tax bill represents 29 per cent of the total, Leeds said a 4 per cent local increase would have a 1 to 1.2 per cent impact on the total tax bill.

The report points to the Main Street grade separation and construction of the new Milton fire headquarters at Derry Road and Savoline Boulevard as the two highest-priority items on the 2012 capital budget.

The projects, slated for completion next year, are estimated to cost $18.4 million and $2.9 million respectively in 2012 and $35.6 million and $5.2 million in total.

Staff included comments on a budget survey — available on the Town’s website until the end of August — in the report.

Of the close to 200 responses received so far, the majority said they’re satisfied with the current level of service the Town provides and 72 per cent said there are no new services or programs that could be offered.

For new services or to increase existing service levels, 40 per cent of respondents don’t support a tax increase, 38 per cent do support an increase and the remainder of respondents were unsure.

The survey asked about support for the hospital levy — 40 per cent were in favour of the tax, 39 per cent weren’t in favour and 21 per cent were unsure.

Hosted by councillors Zeeshan Hamid, Cluett, Barkley and Di Lorenzo, an informal budget input session is set for July 11 at the Milton Sports Centre (Room 4) at 7 p.m.

Budget Input Session July 11th 7pm Milton Sports Centre

As I have mentioned many times in this blog, I feel its important that the community get involved in our budget process.  I cant begin to count the number of times during the last municipal election I heard from residents that they dont know whats going on and want to have a say.

We as a new council wanted to make sure this changed.  The changes started recently with our online survey, which is still active, to get a feeling of what Miltonians want from their local government.

The full budget call report with the summary of comments can be found here.

During the last campaign, I promised to be as open and accountable as possible when it comes to feedback from taxpayers on our budget and along with other councillors in the “Hawthorne Village” area, we have scheduled an informal “Budget Input Session” to hear what YOU have to say.

The date has been finalized and the room has been booked.  Monday July 11th at 7pm at the Milton Sports Centre (Room 4) we will sit down and listen to your opinions on what services you would like to see.  The topics will range from transit, community services, parks, taxes, and the hospital levy that was implemented by council in the 2011 budget.

The online survey gave an overview of what Miltonians were thinking.  A majority of those surveyed felt that council should keep potential tax increases to 1-2%, maintain many services at their current levels and was pretty much split on the hospital levy.  Given the fact the response was down the middle regarding the levy, many of the comments showed that more public input was needed before passing such a measure.

Also, if you have not been able to submit your thoughts through the survey, it is still open at the Milton site for you to complete.  The deadline was for submissions to be included in the Budget Call report, but they will keep the survey online until August 18th.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FNVPFC8

If you have any comments or questions before hand, please email me mike@mikecluett.ca

We look forward to seeing you on the 11th

Hawthorne Village 2012 Budget Input Session

After consulting with Rick Di Lorenzo (Ward 7 Local Councillor) and Zeeshan Hamid (Ward 8 Local Councillor), and Sharon Barkley (Ward 1 Local Councillor) we’ve come up with a date where we want to hear from you.  Of course all other councillors in town are invited to join us but we wanted to have a focus on issues in our area that needs to be heard.

Thursday night June 30th at 7pm (location to be determined) If we get a lot of interest we might move it to the Sports Centre or somewhere larger but it could also be Symposium or Hawthorne Cafe.

The budget call process has started and thank you to everyone who filled out the survey online but thats not the only way to give us your input.

Sharon, Zeeshan, Rick and I want to hear from you in a “tell us what you think” format. We dont want to go on about what OUR priorities are just yet.  That will come in time for sure.  We want to hear what yours are.

Of course we can provide direction on the topics, like transit, community services, parks, taxation, budget increases, etc but the floor is yours.  Once we complile the opinions from everyone, we can send out a summary and these comments will be sent to staff as part of this process.

As always you can tell us what you think via email if you cant make it and each one of us encourages that.

So RSVP here or email one of us to let us know you can make it.

Its your time to speak and comments made there at the meeting and here on the Villager and in emails to us will be used in this budget call process. We can all agree this hasnt happened much in the past…lets change that.

More Construction Notices – Hydro One

The town of Milton received a notice from Hydro One about some upcoming constrcution to the transmission corridor along James Snow Parkway from Steeles to Main Street.  As you will read the construction will take a number of weeks with the goal of being finished by mid-May.

Reisdents will see helicoptors flying around and there will be some loud bangs from the use of implosive devices to fuse wires together…so dont be alarmed.  The notice I’m posting here will be sent to area residents and businesses, sent to the local papers, and local police & fire services.

Here is a link to the notice & a copy of the letter to residents/businesses.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

Bruce to Milton Project Construction Activities

April 28, 2011

Dear Residents,

Hydro One would like to inform you about some upcoming construction activities in the Town of Milton associated with our Bruce to Milton Transmission Reinforcement Project. 

Over the next several weeks our contractor, Valard Construction, will be installing conductor (wire) on the Hydro One right-of-way east of James Snow Parkway, between Main Street and north of Steeles Ave (see map on reverse). In order to string conductor onto the new towers, helicopters will be used and will be required to make short stops at each tower.

In order to fuse the conductor together, our contractor will be using implosive devices. This process makes a loud banging sound similar to that of a firearm discharging, so please do not be alarmed when you hear it.

These activities are scheduled to begin on Saturday, April 30, and will continue periodically, throughout the area until mid May, 2011. Crews will be working seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We expect several implosive connections will be made each day.

Hydro One will be notifying residents and businesses within one kilometre of the work sites.  In addition, we will be notifying nearby schools, local police, ambulance and fire departments to ensure they are aware of the work.

We apologize in advance for the noise and any inconvenience this work may cause.  We thank you for your patience while Hydro One and its contractor complete this critical 500 kilovolt transmission line that will add 3000 megawatts of transmission capability to Ontario’s grid.

If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Marty Dendekker, Construction

Contact Officer at (519)873-0331, or our Community Relations Line toll-free at

1-877-345-6799, or by email at Community.Relations@HydroOne.com.

****

Dear Mayor Krantz,

This weekend, Hydro One’s contractor Valard Construction will begin stringing the conductor (wire) along the new Bruce to Milton transmission towers in the Town of Milton.  The area affected is along the transmission corridor, east of James Snow Parkway and between Main Street and north of Steeles Avenue (see attached notice and map). We expect this work will be completed by mid May.

Helicopters will be used to install the new wires.  Following this, implosive devices will be used to fuse the wires together. These implosive devises make a loud bang, similar to a firearm discharging.  The attached notice will be distributed to homes and businesses in the area through the Milton Canadian Champion and Georgetown Independent, so people are aware of the process and won’t be alarmed if they hear the occasional bang. We have also notified local Police and Fire Services.

In addition, to string this section of line,  helicopters will need to fly over Highway 401 at James Snow Parkway tentatively this weekend and next (May 7 and 8).  As a precautionary measure, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) will slow down traffic on Highway 401 in the vicinity of James Snow Parkway to ensure that this work can be completed safely.  We expect there will be eight slow-downs of traffic over the two weekends for about 5 minutes each time.  The exact timing will be determined by Valard Construction and the OPP on site.

If weather conditions allow, this work could be completed in less time, and traffic slow downs may not be required on both weekends.  

Please do not hesitate to call me or Marylena Stea, Community Relations Officer at 416-345-5706 if you have any questions.

Regards,

Enza Cancilla
Manager, Public Affairs
Corporate Communications
Hydro One Networks

Even More Feedback on Milton Budget & Tax Levy

Continuing with some of the feedback I posted earlier last week, here is another letter to the editor of the Milton Canadian Champion in todays paper.

A re-do needed on Town budget

Dear Editor:

Milton council appears to be out of touch with the reality of today’s economy.

The country is in a recession, thousands of Canadians are unemployed, and citizens are still reeling from the introduction of the HST and hydro cost increases. And still Milton council feels increasing our property taxes at twice the rate of inflation represents good government. It doesn’t.

The Bank of Canada is projecting a 2 per cent inflation rate for 2011, which should represent the absolute limit for property tax increases this year. Town council needs to get back to work and have Town staff provide them with spending reductions that will keep the tax increases within the 2 per cent target.

These reductions should include, at a minimum, a freeze on the hiring of new employees, unfilled positions being left vacant and capital projects being reduced, as they eventually create ongoing operations and maintenance expenses. The Town should also be looking to contract out any services that it performs that can be more cost-effectively provided by the private sector.

The 1 per cent hospital tax levy should be rescinded. Ontario residents are already burdened with high Provincial taxes to support health care. The Town shouldn’t be creating a ‘stealth’ health-care tax  through our property taxes.

One of the more pleasant surprises I experienced when I moved to Milton over a decade ago was reasonable property taxes. To keep these taxes reasonable, council needs to recognize that prudent management of our tax dollars is expected of our elected members of council.

The budget for 2011 needs to be re-opened and spending reductions introduced to lower the Town portion of property taxes to a maximum 2 per cent increase.

Sean McCafferty, Milton