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