How Much do Halton Cities Spend on and Tax From its Residents?

 

With all the recent turmoil over local government budgets being disrupted by Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s announced cuts (which were since rescinded for this year), one must wonder how much does your local government spend on the average person.

A report from the Fraser Institute looks into that question, comparing municipal finances across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. “It is not always straightforward for citizens to understand the state of their municipal government’s finances, and even less straightforward to understand how their government performs relative to other municipalities,” the report says in its introduction.

The FI report provides a summary analysis of important financial information for 26 local municipalities from the years 2009 to 2016, in both areas of government spending and collection of local government revenue, aka your taxes.

Below is a graphic from the report showing per-person spending on the average person in each of the cities and towns in the GTA and in Hamilton.Government Spending

Toronto comes in the highest amount spent at $4,010 per person, which translated to almost 70 per cent more per person in Ontario’s capital city. Milton was the lowest spender at $2,385 per person. Meanwhile, Mississauga spends $2,705 per person, Brampton $2,804 per person, while Oakville spent $2,876 per person and Burlington spent $2,755 per person.

Other than in Vaughan, at $3,087 per person, most of the other GTAmunicipalities excluding Hamilton have roughly the same amount of per person spending by their local governments.

Government Revenue

As for how much local governments collect in taxes, in 2016 Mississauga collected the second lowest amount of revenue per person at $3,049, while Brampton collected $3,166 per person. In Halton Region municipalities, Oakville collected the highest from its residents at $4,166 per person, Halton Hills at $3,957, Milton at $3,336 and Burlington collects the least tax from its residents at $3,087 per person.Out of all the other local governments in the GTA and Hamilton, King Township, in York Region, tops the list in collecting the most at $5,130 per person, while Georgina (also in York) collects the least at $2,799 per person.

Another finding in the report was that 38.9 per cent of municipal revenue came from property taxes in 2016. Reliance on this revenue source is typically higher in Durham Region, and lower in York Region, where user fees play a greater role.“Development charges represent a greater share of revenue in several fast-growing municipalities, such as Milton, Markham, and Brampton, but also in several municipalities experiencing below-average population growth, such as Halton Hills and Aurora, raising important questions about these fees’ purpose, and their application in practice.”

When broken down by object, the most significant category of municipal spending is salaries and wages (42.3 per cent of region-wide municipal spending), which, when joined with employee benefits, account for a majority (over 50 per cent) of municipal spending in Pickering, Toronto, and Whitby,” the report concludes.

Other spending categories defined in the report for local governments include interest on long term debt, contracted services, rent and financial expenses as well as external transfers and amortization, which includes the annual amortization expense for tangible capital assets.

To read the Fraser Institute’s full report, click here.

Do you think your city collects enough money from you and spends enough on you as a person, based on these numbers?

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