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3.55% increase focuses on infrastructure, flood, transit, culture

Residents will pay $19.36 more per $100,000 of assessed value if the proposed budget is accepted by council.Included in the budget is increased funding for infrastructure, flood mitigation, transit improvements, cultural investments, and human resource costs. Total spending is increasing by $6.097 million, bringing the total city levy to $139.9 million, a 3.55% increase over 2014’s levy.

The tax increase is softened somewhat by additional revenue from new taxpayers through population and employment growth (called “assessment growth”). Assessment growth was 97%; without this growth, the tax increase would have been 4.52%

When blended with the education and region portion of your tax bill (which comprise roughly two-thirds of your overall taxes)the overall increase for residents this year is 2.1%. The education portion was at zero, while the Halton Region tax increase was at 1.6% (after factoring in Halton assessment growth).

Highlights of the budget are below and throughout the newsletter in specific articles.

Dedicated infrastructure levy of 1.2% ($1.745 million in infrastructure investment).
This will help narrow the cumulative gap between work that needs to be done but hasn’t been done due to insufficient funding. For roads alone the backlog is now $105.9 million. Roads, facilities and buildings represent 90% of the city’s total assets. The total infrastructure backlog is approximately $147 million. Staff will be bringing a report to council later this Spring to provide options to council for how to further reduce the infrastructure gap.

The city’s 10-year capital  program focuses on infrastructure renewal (73%), with 17% of the budget allocated to growth-related projects and 10% for new or enhanced infrastructure.

The capital budget is for 2015 is $48 million, with $39 million of that for renewal needs, $5.5 million for growth-related needs, and $3.4 million for new needs. The single largest category in the capital budget is roadways, at $20 million, almost half the total budget.

Climate Change & Flood Mitigation funding of $4.5 million
These funds will be added to the capital budget over four years for maintenance and rehabilitation works addressing recommendations from the AMEC study. AMEC was contracted by the city to assist in flood analysis and identify areas and potential solutions to address damage as a result of the Aug. 4 flood and future mitigation projects. The completion of AMEC’s work is expected to yield estimates for future repair and rehabilitation.

Culture, Hospital, Official Plan, Human Resources
The budget includes an additional $2.2 million which includes $100,000 for a cultural initiatives reserve fund; $100,000 for policy work related to the Official Plan/Zoning Bylaw review currently underway; 1.5% for merit pay increases (individual staff increases could be above or below that amount); our contribution to the hospital; plus a 1.5% inflationary increase to local Boards and Committees (worth $216,403).

Human resource costs represent roughly half the city’s budget, averaging 49% over the past 10 years (47% in 2015). Overall headcount has been reduced by 2.7 full time equivalents (FTEs), however there are three service enhancement requests, two from transit and one from the fire department, that would add 6.2 FTEs, for a net increase of 3.5 FTEs.

Growth Services of $371,000
These include additional winter control costs due to new roads, enhanced creek maintenance, and technical and maintenance costs from expanded business applications and technology across the organization.

Increases in Corporate Expenditures and Revenues of $1.077 million
These costs include increased insurance and financing costs, and the added contribution to the infrastructure renewal fund.

New services $517,000
These include the additional Handivan and driver, and additional hours and routes on the Community Connection bus serving the Burlington Seniors’ Centre, seniors homes and other points of interest to seniors throughout the city.

Project-specific increases from boards and committees of $155,000
These include additional funding for the Burlington Sound of Music Festival, funding for Heritage Burlington’s tax rebate program and website launch, and funding for the Burlington Performing Arts Centre’s school outreach program, including ticket discounts to performances, workshop/mentoring program and one dedicated staff person.

One-time expenditures (no tax impact) of $287,000
These costs are funded from the Tax Rate Stabilization Reserve Fund which would be replenished by any year-end surplus. Included in these expenditures are: 3D Visualization Model, to allow 3D modelling of the built environment in specific geographic areas of the City (one-time expenditure of $84,000); Shoreacres Character Area Study (one-time expenditure of $60,000); Accreditation Coordinator for the Burlington Fire Department to complete the accreditation process that covers Self Assessment, Community Risk Analysis, Standards of Cover, and a Continuous Improvement Strategic Plan (one-time expenditure of $ 143,000).

How the budget gets approved
Members of council can suggest amendments to the budget. Those amendments will be debated at the Feb. 17 & 19 sessions of the Community & Corporate Services Committee (which includes all members of council). The capital budget has already been discussed by council at the Jan. 29 Community & Corporate Services Committee, without changes. Recommendations from the capital and current budget meetings will go City Council for final approval Feb. 23.

If needed, Feb. 24 has been set aside for debate on the current budget, in which case council would approve both current and capital budgets March 23.

Have your say
The Feb. 11 session of the Community & Corporate Services Committee has been set aside to hear from the public on the current budget. You can Register as a Delegation to speak at that meeting, or at the Feb. 23 council meeting when the final vote occurs on the capital and current budgets. You can also leave a comment below, or email or call your input to me

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.

4 Comments

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  1. Just a little simple math !
    2014 budget $129 million + 4.8 million for the hospital = $133.8 million
    2015 budget $135.1 million + $4.8 million for the hospital = $139.9 million
    Budget increase of $6.1 million or 4.55% … NOT 3.55%

  2. OAP has risen $8.00 pa. in the last eight years since I became eligable. ($500 to $565). Over the last eight years my taxes have risen just short of $1,000. No wonder some people are forced to sell their homes that they worked hard to pay for, thinking that life would be comfortable but the insatiable appetite of nanny Wynne and her previous patner in crime and consecutive Burlington council’s which also cannot take the feedbags off their heads are the major contributor to the problem.
    From the figures above just do the math !!. We have four levels of government, too much ! and those we put in cannot make up their minds without endless studies and committees all of which we pay for. Would you consider giving interested parties a line by line explanation of where the money goes ? Just a thought,
    regards Michael Campbell

  3. Marianne While we do not live in your riding, we do appreciate the informative news letter you send via e-mail. Thank you.

    There is one general question I am compelled to ask. In the 20 years we have lived in Burlington, I can honestly say, without exaggeration, that I have never seen a Burlington Transit buss with more than three people on it. at a time. In addition, that applies to double unit buses.

    With transit costs mounting every year, why has Council not considered using small busses? It seems ridiculous to us “common folk”, who, as in my case, operated a successful company of my own, that there isn’t a better way to deal with the so very few who actually ride our busses. Maybe in the core it is different, but sending busses all over Burlington with just a few riders, seems to be unjustified.

    Another question could be made regarding the three days it takes on a regular basis, to clear our street of snow. On average, every time there is a significant storm, we are forced to stay home for lack of proper and efficient snow removal. It is not only inconvenient, but dangerous. Should a medical emergency arise. It would be impossible for emergency vehicles to reach our homes.

    Any thought?

    Regards

    Jim Lucas

  4. Hi Marianne:
    It absolutely floors me that City Council think it is okay to increase taxes each and every year. Many of us citizens are living on the same or less income (I have had zero salary increase, inflationary or otherwise, since 2010). Every year you raise taxes, my quality of life diminishes. I get that money needs to be spent on flood protection, road repairs, etc. but $2 million for raised bike lanes? A City Council that managed expenditures well and achieved a zero increase while maintaining essential services (and a bike lane is not an essential service, especially when we already have so many) would not have to worry about re-election. Private businesses and their employees are still experiencing extremely tough times. it is irresponsible and short-sighted to think it’s okay to raise taxes every year.

What's your take?