Burlington’s operating budget is proposed at 3.85% property tax increase, which would be reduced to 2.45% after it is blended with Halton Region and Boards of Education portions of the tax bill.
The 3.85% increase is driven by the following factors:
- 1.97% increase in the city’s “base” budget. (I have asked for a detailed breakdown of what is included in that figure; I’ve also asked for a summary of reductions in budgets)
- 1.44% increase in the dedicated infrastructure levy, and tax supported debt to address immediate road infrastructure renewal needs
- 0.31% increase if all city business cases are approved
- 0.13% increase if business cases from local boards are approved
The increases are summarized in the table below:
Combined with the Region of Halton increase and the Boards of Education, the overall increase is 2.45% or $21.77 per $100,000 of Current Value Assessment.
City staff have advised that they have some options to reduce the increase for council’s consideration at our January budget discussions.
For more information on the budget, including the capital and operating budget books and staff reports, visit the city’s Budget 2016 page.
My Take: I will be looking for ways to reduce the increase, by review of items in the base budget and reductions to business case requests, in addition to any other options presented by staff. I also believe the budget process itself needs improvement; council only focuses on the “new requests” which only represent 0.31% of the total increase. Typically there is not enough information provided about the rationale for the request, or whether the funds could reasonably be found within existing budgets.
In addition, council has no information (unless we ask, which I have) around savings staff have found within existing budgets. Finally, we have no information on what items are including in the 1.97% based budget increase – which is the single largest driver of the total tax increase. I have asked for this information, but we know from discussion at committee it includes some new items, under $25,000.
I believe council should be comprehensively reviewing the budget each year, including the items driving the base budget increase and any new items – not just focusing on the new items.
Finally, I believe we should be aiming for an entire budget at roughly the rate of inflation – not just the “base budget.” You pay the full tab, and for many folks on fixed incomes any increase, and certainly year over year increases, can add up quickly, taking an ever larger portion of your income.
Your Take: Let me know your thoughts on the budget by leaving a comment below.