Are the budget deliberations going to be the first skirmish in the battle for the Chain of Office ?

By Pepper Parr

November 2nd, 2021



Taxes are about politics – good government service comes after that.

The four year average amounts to 4.14% – nothing to brag about but with inflation hitting that level – might it be acceptable?

You get elected when you lower taxes and fake the delivering of service as best you can.

Burlington changed the way and frequency that it collects leaves and then citizens fight like crazy with those who want to cut down the trees so they don’t have to rake them up or they want to put in a swimming pool.

In the fourth year of a term of office the practice is to lower taxes just enough to show that you care and add a service or two that doesn’t cost all that much,

Some will argue that COVID19 changed those practices.

When the public sees just how much money the city got from the federal and provincial governments they will wonder why taxes are predicted to increase by 5.45% over last year.

The four year tax run for the current council is not encouraging.  Is this a tax and spend government?

Too early to tell.

Sharman will experience some indigestion

Mayor in waiting Paul Sharman will tell you, even if you don’t ask, that during his first year as a member of Council he pushed for a 0% increase – and got it.

Sharman will experience some indigestion over the Mayor in Waiting title; he’s not modest – just strategic.

How the rest of council are going to explain the increase will be interesting to watch.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward. was seen as unbeatable when she ran for Mayor the first time – has the music changed? Will a budget be her undoing?

The Mayor has already staked out her position – the budget they will be looking at on Wednesday is a “staff wish list” – that’s what the Mayor is reported to have said during her CMHL 15 minutes of fame bit last week.

During this four-year period, the city’s budget included the 1.25% infrastructure levy to direct towards the growing infrastructure funding gap while at the same time provided significant investments in Transit, By-law Enforcement and Forestry.

Add to the mix interest former Mayor Rick Goldring has shown in matters civic.  This could be very interesting.


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2 comments to Are the budget deliberations going to be the first skirmish in the battle for the Chain of Office ?

  • Howard

    Sometimes the tax increases have a story to tell. Tom is right right that shaving off a percentage can be done. What council did in 2019 and 2020 was steal from the coffers to get to the more appealing sub 3 and 4 percent. I think that plundering option is over which will certainly require more creative accounting to get much lower. It will be interesting to see where the rest of Halton and Hamilton get to. This may work in favour for the Mayor. As politicians they look beyond their borders to look favourable. One key point to remember is the ever lagging development charges that this city has deferred due to the ICBL. Personally it is the exceptional services that make a city great, not the tax rate.

  • Tom Muir

    I saw the Mayor on CHCH again this morning (Wednesday morning is the weekly time at present). Among other things, the budget was discussed again with the rate increase commented on.

    The Mayor said the the budget overall, individual specific costs, and and rate increases were the “best judgement of staff.” The characterization given last time of the budget being a “staff wish list” may have been some of a misnomer, but I know from experience that some items are at the very least on the “wish list” of Council, and sometimes individual Councilors. It’s just a list of desired things or occurrences.

    Staff have told me that Councilors have projects they would like to see done in their Ward, and since these things take a lot of time to fruition, and staff are charged with delivering them, it really does become a “staff wish list”. It’s their job and it is not meant to denote derogatory intent.

    The Mayor did say for sure that the budget was too much, and needed “sharp pencils” taken by the best judgement of staff again to see what was really committed to by Council, and what could reasonably be cut.

    I’m not sure at this time if the budget will be much of a skirmish. Everyone knows that COVID and the continuing economic fallout that will be ongoing for while will fall equal on all possible contenders. A Mayor led process of “sharp pencils”, and engagement of the masses, I think advantages her. Not easy to preach austerity in the position now where the tax rate is not yet way out of line with the 4 year average increase of 4.14, and the CPI is about the same.

    Probably not too hard a job to snip a percent or more off the 5.45. More than that is a bigger lift.

    Should be interesting to see the arguments from residents, the Mayor, and Councilors, such as Paul Sharman, who should be interesting on this as always.