A budget that is higher than the numbers produced by city staff: 7.08% increase rose to 7.57 %

By Pepper Parr

February 14th, 2023



It was the end of a very long day – they had put in close to 11 hours and had begun to get a little giddy.

We do not yet have numbers on what the impact will be on taxpayers.  The motion they passed will be debated at City Council today is shown below.

In commenting on just what they had done ward 6 Councillor Paul Sharman said:

Sharman: This is not an irresponsible budget.

So to the ladies and gentlemen who are paying attention to what we have just done. I’d like to make the point that we recognize this is a significant increase in taxes in comparison to what has happened in prior years.

It is not a list of what we have done, it is not irresponsible and it is not a mistake – we face serious circumstances that need to be taken care of. We have spent 40 years trying to reduce and control the impact of the cost of the city on community members. And the result of that is we have lower taxes than any other municipality in our vicinity. And we’ve been proud of that, and we’re still proud of it and we are still pretty darn low.

So I’m not too concerned that that we have failed the community by over taxing – we have done very well. If the cumulative effect has been that we didn’t spend enough money on some critical matters – we have in the past made decisions that cause us to be uncompetitive in the labour market within competing municipalities around us and we’re losing people that is not in the best interest of our community.

So we’re moving to correct that. We have had complaints as late as last week about potholes in our roads that we can’t fix for another two years. And you put that in the context of us having a $5 billion infrastructure expense that is not funded; that roads and buildings and vehicles face a funding gap to keep them in the state of good repair. We now have to try and catch up – we’ve been doing that now for about five years by putting money aside and realizing that has to be increased.

In addition to that we’ve had services like by law offices where we have not had even half the quantity of our nearest neighbour, Oakville. We have a third of the number of bylaw officers they have. We are taking initial steps to adjust that. We have to get more next year.

We have a fire station that we have built 10 years ago that we’ve never properly staffed. And now that is causing concern about potential risk.

We’re not too worried that it’s going to create an immediate impact. But we’re now moving to fill those jobs.

The story goes on and on and on. We had one more thing of course, which is inflation – high inflation, So put it all together. This city is creating itself for the long term good of the community. That is our goal to do the right thing for all of you. Thank you.

Angelo Bentivegna: We all have our different viewpoints

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo who had more Budget motions than any other member of Council, most of which failed, struggled through the day to fully understand the difference between the Capital Budget and the Operations Budget said:

All I want to say quickly is today was long day and I do agree that we do need to shore up staffing issues, etc. We’ve been discussing my 10 motions, which, with the exception of two, did not reduce any of these numbers that we’re talking about and we are simply looking at putting them on a 2024 budget.

I understand. We all have our different viewpoints, some of the things I felt we needed to defer to the 2024 budget, and then see where that falls in terms of inflation numbers, Maybe we could have massaged it to some degree.

Budget committee Chair Lisa Kearns ran a tight meeting.

Chair Lisa Kearns, who ran a tight meeting under some awkward situations at times thanked committee “for your incredible teamwork today. Your collaboration your respect your dialogue and your insight in carrying forward concerns around budgetary pressures as well as the desire of the residents that you represent.

She thanked the city manager, Joan Ford, CFO and staff for delivering to us with a steady hand budget under very difficult pressures. You have been excellent in doing all of the back work and that’s required to have the conversations that you allowed counsel to undertake today with a thorough review a very thick budget book, and very respectful dialogue in and through each of the different items that we discussed today.

I am complete as your budget chair. I think we have a lot to be proud of as a council and as a city.

I first wish to take the vote for the operating budget. The motion is on your screen. It should be available for the public to see as well. (It wasn’t) Looking for all those in favour, please. All opposed. Thank you that does carry.

Looking now to take the vote for the capital budget. It is there on your screen. All those in flavor please say aye. All those opposed?

Now I’d like to take a vote on the balance. All those in favour. All those opposed? Thank you.

This does carry the main motion as amended.

Joan Ford: You’ve taken a very long term look this year

Joan Ford: “ You’ve taken a very long term look this year as part of your budget deliberations and I hope you continue that going forward.

City Manager Tim Commisso added: “I think the only person that hasn’t been thanked is Joan Ford, without her this doesn’t happen.

We will meet again on February 14th to pass the budget that was approved today.

The unfortunate part of the process that produced a budget recommendation that will be voted on at Council today is that the data was not made available.  Information that should have appeared on the screen didn’t appear on the screens.

what the financial impact will be to taxpayers was not made available.

We will see that information later today – but the public had a right to see it BEFORE it went to Council.

The rush to come up with a budget recommendation is disturbing.  Three days had been set aside to do the job properly. Council members chose to put in an eleven hour day.  That last two hours was not this Council at its best.

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2 comments to A budget that is higher than the numbers produced by city staff: 7.08% increase rose to 7.57 %

  • Joe Gaetan

    What we do know is that a 7.57% budgetary increase comes at a time when the B.O.C. has been increasing the prime rate to tamp down inflation. It is also a time when many taxpayers had to tighten their belts especially those on a fixed income.
    Was it a good or bad budget? Time will tell. Will the next budget come in higher or lower than this one? Time will tell. Did council do a good job? The next election, 4 years from now is when engaged taxpayers get to communicate their displeasure with the budget, or decide to reward council by re-electing them.

  • Lynn Crosby

    Quite a legacy this council is building. Not a good one.

    And now, hold on tight folks, here comes the spin!