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 email@example.com
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.