Burlington taxes could increase by more than 6% in 2024

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Published October 30, 2023 at 11:43 am

Burlington mayor budget tax increases 2024

Should the Burlington mayor’s proposed budget pass, residents could see an increase in their residential tax bill increase 6.33 per cent. 

Following a change to provincial rules, Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward will present a city budget focused on essentials, front-line services and preparing for growth. The new legislation from the Ontario government now requires mayors to present a budget that will be discussed and revised by council.

Meed Ward’s budget is now available online, with deliberations set to begin Nov. 2 at a council meeting.

In Burlington, the residential tax bill supports the city itself (51 per cent), the Region of Halton (32 per cent) and the school boards (17 per cent). Council will focus on the city portion of the tax bill, while the regional portion will be set by regional council (of which Burlington is a member, along with representatives from Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills). 

The mayor’s budget proposes a 4.99 per cent increase to the city’s portion of the residential tax bill. With regional and school board increases factored in, residents could see an overall increase of 6.33 per cent.

According to the budget document, a city staff budget proposed a higher 6.28 per cent increase to the city’s portion of the tax bill, meaning residents would see an overall increase of 7.61 per cent. 

“As part of new provincial legislation, I will present a proposed 2024 budget to council prioritizing the long-term needs of our city based on essentials, frontline services, and growth-planning,” said Meed Ward in an earlier statement.

“I believe these are the priorities of council and our community. I will be seeking input from the public and council on the proposed budget and making modifications as needed.”

The proposed budget is broken down into three categories:

  • Essentials, covering projects and items the City of Burlington must address and/or have already committed to, such as cost of inflation, necessary capital projects and infrastructure renewal
  • Frontline service, covering enhanced services that directly improves the quality of life of Burlington residents
  • Planning for growth, which will prepare for the expected increase in population and allow preparartion for the future.

“This year’s budget process may look a little different, due to the new legislation, but what will be the same is that we will still have a budget reflective of the city’s and community’s needs, proposed amendments from council members, and multiple opportunities for the community to engage and provide their feedback,” said Meed Ward.

“Our budget process has always been subject to revisions and amendments, and public input – and that will not change. I encourage everyone in our community to participate in the budget process and provide their feedback.”

According to the report, the mayor’s budget proposes a net tax levy of $243,400,298. Once council deliberates, the proposed budget will then go to budget committee on Nov. 21 and, if necessary, Nov. 23. 

As for essentials, the document says that given inflation and concerns about the rapidly increasing cost of living, some community members have asked the city to focus on “need to haves” rather than “nice to haves.” The document says the budget does this by focusing on essentials by accounting for inflation, honouring existing contracts for capital projects and accounting for non-union and unionized staff wage adjustments and collective agreements. 

Some items in the budget include reducing non-union salaries by $1.020 million, reducing the provision for tax write-offs by $50,000, maintaining hydro revenue recovery of $250,000 and reducing the Enterprise Business Service Support from $527,496 to $0. 

The mayor’s budget also includes some city staff recommendations, such as keeping the infrastructure levy at $4.348 million to address the infrastructure deficit of close to $500 million. 

“This increase will be the highest investment by any council in the last decade towards closing the infrastructure deficit,” the budget document reads. 

Funds will also be put towards financial sustainability (reserve funds), local boards (Burlington Public Library, Art Gallery of Burlington, Museums of Burlington and others),  corporate infrastructure and software growth, new infrastructure (City View Park, Lansdown Park, Sherwood Forest and others) and frontline services (bylaw enforcement, snow removal, etc). 

The budget is expected to change in the coming weeks and the public is also invited to weigh in on the proposed budget.

“It is expected changes will occur, once council receives the staff report on Financial Needs, receives information at the council workshops Nov. 6 and 7, reviews public input and receives additional input at the Nov. 7 telephone town hall and committee delegations, and brings motion memorandums forward to Nov. 21 and 23 committee meetings,” the report says. 

“There is also still time for the public to provide input and influence the budget. After considering all information, council will collaboratively determine the final 2024 budget, which is expected to differ from both staff’s Financial Needs reference book, and the mayor’s budget.”

– With files from Jeffrey Allen

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