Burlington resident explains how budget was put together -proposes a two line procedure for paying your taxes

By Staff

November 24th, 2023



Eric Stern delegated to City Council during the budget debates.  We asked him if he would do a short piece on what he had to say about his experience in talking to City Council.

Here is what he had to say:

I’ve delegated (spoken) to council twice and I’m slowly learning the inner workings of the budget process.

This is my high-level summary:

1 – Use social media to repeat the simple message “4.99% budget impact.”

2 – Bury the details, where almost no one can find them, on page 728 of the budget book.

Page 728 shows a 13.7% spending increase.

3 – Wendy Fletcher, the citizen who created a Petition asking people to help STOP the Proposed 2024 Property Tax Increase, points out the city’s own survey shows the majority want services cut or maintained at the current level. No problem, release a new “statistically accurate” survey that shows people want tax increases. Release on a Friday just before an important, and public, Tuesday meeting. I haven’t been able to find the survey so there won’t be much public input but it does make for a great talking point for the mayor.

4 – Make a few tweaks to the budget so the council can say they listened to the public.

5 – Use the strong mayor powers to limit citizen input and force the city prepared budget through in 30 days. The strong mayor legislation allows the mayor to prepare a budget. Repeat another simple message over and over again, “Doug Ford forced me to present a budget.”

6 – Run a victory lap and start hiring somewhere between 50 and 90 new employees.

7 – Repeat next year. Why not, last year the city pulled off a 15.5 per cent municipal tax revenue increase and no one even noticed. Don’t believe me? Take a look at line 1 of your tax bills for 2022 and 2023.

Our mayor and council have been in power for so long they have forgotten who they represent. Public service organizations rarely have enough resources to do their jobs. Council, as our board of directors, is tasked with balancing insatiable need with what the community can afford.

We are heading towards a two-line tax return:

Line 1 – How much money did you make last year?

Line 2 – Send us the amount on line 1.

Dan Chapman delegated at city hall on Thursday November 23rd. Chapman was eloquent, intelligent and didn’t hold back his distaste with the increases. Have a listen.






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5 comments to Burlington resident explains how budget was put together -proposes a two line procedure for paying your taxes

  • Elan

    Sorry. Is Eric Stern saying the effective municipal tax increase for 2023 was 15.5%? I do not believe, at all, the city of Burlington is, somehow, flush with cash. Eric is misinformed, I believe. And did he factor in inflation, basic investment, governance, citizen safety, insurance, road maintenance, infrastructure to support Ford development imperatives(new). It’s a hot headline. But this is becoming an international city. Best place to live. But, yes. No tax increase is popular. Misinforming the public doesn’t help.

    • Lynn Crosby

      Joan Little wrote in the Spec that Eric’s calculations are correct and Eric also had them confirmed by staff.

      Agree that misinforming the public doesn’t help. Its council doing the misinforming.

      • Dan Chapman said the same thing in his delegation. Look at line 1 of the municipal tax bills for 2022 to 2023 (“final” bills). No change in assessment. Municipal tax revenue increased 15.5%. Others on social media have also confirmed this. Line 1 is the City of Burlington line. I didn’t believe it either, had to put on my glasses and double check the spreadsheet calculation.

    • Wendy Fletcher

      Have you read the budget? It sounds like the answer is no. Because if you had you’d know more about what was going on. I spent 3 days going thru the Budget Framework which came out in June or July. I could speak in factual detail to every buzz word you dropped. Can you respond in kind? Or you’d rather believe that all is well in the fairy tale which is Marianne Meed Ward and her desire to govern a world class city? That’s a term her husband used to a voter in 2022, not one I coined. Thing is, voters didn’t know that was the plan and keeping it from voters for personal gain (being re-elected), that borders on fraud.

      There was nothing wrong with Burlington. There certainly is now. And the root of it is a spend happy mayor and council that wouldn’t know restraint if there was a gun to their heads.

      There is a problem with Eric’s piece but it’s only that it’s not explained in a way that most people get. The budget is the change in money from 2023 to 2024. Its also expressed as a %. That’s the property tax hike for the year.

      That’s not the same as the impact to your tax bill. That’s what he is talking about. If you calculate the increase in your taxes from 2022 to 2023, its around 15%. But as he said, don’t believe him, check. Maybe you ought to have done that before saying he’s wrong and spreading misinformation. He’s not. But you are bc your comments are based on opinion, not fact.

      The rest of us, we do our due diligence.

      If you want a 32% tax increase over 5 yrs which translated to your property taxes increasing 60%, that’s your prerogative. But maybe you’re a renter so really don’t care and just reaping the benefits of those of us who do pay tax.

    • Tom Muir

      Elan, you are talking about the municipal budget share tax increase percentage of 2022 to 2023, which was 15.5%.

      The municipal budget share increase percentage, pretty much everyone else in the City is talking about right now, is for 2023 to 2024, and the last firm share I knew was from Stern, and I wrote a comment about it in the Gazette on November 19, it was 10.21%.

      You can go back and look at the story – “Public opinion not yet clear on what the tax increase should be for 2024”

      As Wendy said – have you read the budget? Looks like no.
      For that matter, do you read the Gazette for the stories and comments, and pay close attention, and fact check? This stuff would seem obviously too important to space. Ask Joan Ford.

      I must say that this budget process is making more noise for sure, but its only because more people are finally paying attention and pitching in, with persistence.

      Take a lesson from this because this attention, and calling out this Council, is the only thing that will ever have any effect, and people have to keep doing it for every issue.