The majority – 87% – of this year’s requests were approved, either as additions to the base budget or draws on reserves. We need to be more disciplined about saying no and focusing on need to haves, especially in light of the current economic climate.
Taxes & spending
Though the budget includes several need-to-have items – our contribution to the hospital redevelopment, money for infrastructure, the new Alton community centre and library, and enhanced transit service – it also includes almost $2 million in “nice-to-haves”.
We must do better than a 6.5% increase, and that will require some tough choices.
I support a revised strategic focus and funding for BEDC
In March, city council approved a budget that increases our funding for infrastructure and our hospital, resulting in a city tax increase of 3.29%.
My Take: During the election campaign, many of you told me you wanted the city to rein in spending, focus on priorities, and more closely align spending to economic realities. City taxes have increased by a whopping 75% since 2000 – about 5.6% per year, while our population has only grown by 18%, and inflation by 23%. This budget signals a new focus on fiscal restraint while maintaining or enhancing core priorities for our hospital and seniors.
I have learned from a downtown church leader that the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation is targetting some places of worship to assess their community gathering spaces (eg. parish hall) for the purpose of assessing property tax. This has already been done in churches throughout Ontario to disastrous effect.
Many churches offer their community space to local groups; if places of worship will now have to pay property tax on those spaces, the cost will be prohibitive to the church and the community group, and these important activities in our community places of worship will end.
The Ticats are exploring Paletta-owned lands in Aldershot between King and Waterdown roads for a $130 million, 22,000 seat stadium that would also be used for Pan Am games. Just after Christmas, Ticat officials approached Burlington to partner.
There may be public and private funding of about $100 million, leaving a potential “funding gap” of up to $30m for capital costs.
City Hall is increasing taxes at 3 times the rate of inflation to pay for nice-to-have capital projects like the pier. City Hall needs to limit spending: and ideas on how we could rein it in.