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Capital budget discussion begins Dec. 1; seeking additional transit & trail funds; operating budget at 4.19% increase

Committee of the Whole Budget, Dec. 1, 9:30am

The capital budget will be up for discussion Dec. 1 at the Committee of the Whole – Budget meeting.

The Dec. 1 meeting will also include an overview of the proposed operating budget, which currently has a potential tax increase of 4.19% before amendments. Debate of the operating budget will be at the Committee of the Whole – Budget meeting Jan. 18. Agenda & Reports

The 2018 capital budget is $68.6 million, including 1.25% funding from the operating budget for infrastructure (value of $1.9 million). Council will vote on the capital budget Dec. 11.

Capital Budget amendments

For the capital budget, I’m proposing more transit buses, removal of the Cherryhill sidewalk, and more money for trails. Specifically:

  • phase in video-cameras on buses over two years ($500k value), or defer entire amount to 2019, and bring forward the purchase of one new bus and one new Handivan (value $194k capital plus amounts already in reserve), with two drivers. The capital purchase does not add to the taxes as it can be exchanged for the cameras; adding drivers will add $405k to the operating  balance.
  • remove $55k funding in 2018 for Active Transportation plan, as currently have $55k unspent from 2017, and reallocate this amount to the multi-use trails strategy to begin sooner than 2022
  • direct staff to consider advancing funding for the multi-use trails to the 2019 budget (currently not set to start until 2022-27)

Additional amendments from other members of council include:

  • provide funding of $250k in 2018 for design work for the Active Transportation Crossing of the QEW
  • provide $30k funding for design work in 2018 for the Lowville Schoolhouse renovations
  • direct staff to review the sidewalk warrant bylaw, and local improvement policy (charging residents for a portion of the new sidewalk)
  • direct staff to engage residents of Bromley Rd about a potential sidewalk
  • direct staff to consider funding for the Lowville School house in 2019
  • direct staff to consider expanded pedestrian lighting at the Aldershot Tennis Club as part of the 2019 budget, with cost sharing with the Aldershot Tennis Club

Operating Budget Overview

At the Dec. 1 capital budget meeting there will also be an overview of the Operating Budget. Amendments to the operating budget will be considered at the Jan. 18 Committee of the Whole – Budget meeting, and go to council Jan. 22.

The operating budget currently sits at a 4.19% increase which includes the capital infrastructure levy of 1.25%. Other significant pressures on the budget include increases to the minimum wage, arbitration settlement awards to fire fighters, and increases to transit to address previously identified underfunding issues:

  • The city’s base budget is presented with a 0.46% increase (includes any wage increases plus inflationary pressures)
  • The estimated impact from legislative changes to the Employment Standards and Labour Relations Acts (Bill 148) of $1 million results in an additional tax increase of 0.65%
  • The annualized impact of changes made within the Transit Service to provide operational sustainability of $1.3 million results in an additional tax increase of 0.85%
  • Impacts from the 2014 arbitrated Fire settlement of $1.2 million results in an additional tax increase of 0.78%
  • The increase for the dedicated infrastructure levy of $1.9 million results in an additional tax increase of 1.32%
  • A business case to increase maintenance standards on city sportsfields for $320K (+0.21%). This is the second installment on a three year strategy that began in 2017 via my motion that was approved by council to immediately begin work on enhanced sportsfield maintenance
  • The above increases are net of a line-by-line review of the base budget that eliminated $600,000 (about $500k of this is savings from converting street lights to LED)
Combined with the Region of Halton increase and the Boards of Education, the overall tax increase is projected at 2.49%.
I will be looking to find savings in the budget to add four more transit drivers (two conventional and two Handivan) to immediately begin to upgrade transit service. Additional drivers are not currently planned till 2019.

 

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.

What's your take?