City administration gets the first word on the budget they will debate next week. Projection is for a 7.08% increase over last year

By Pepper Parr

January 3rd, 2023



Good media management means getting your story out first and trying to set the narrative.

Burlington’s Communications people put of their story late this afternoon – just after 6:30 pm.

Here it is with all the spin you could imagine.

The proposed 2023 budget is focused on planning ahead and protecting our city’s future.

In presenting the proposed budget, City Manager Tim Commisso and Chief Financial Officer Joan Ford are advising Council that we need to make key community investments now that improve service to residents. While our community continues to grow, our investments in enhancing City services and amenities have not kept pace. We need to maintain and repair city infrastructure. For key services like bylaw enforcement, we are simply not meeting community expectations. The time is now to invest in needed improvements. The 2023 and 2024 budget will both be “catch-up” budgets. This will enable the city to make investments that protect and improve our future.

The proposed 2023 budget recommends an overall tax increase of 7.08% (including Region of Halton and Boards of Education). Of the 7.08% increase to the property tax bill, Burlington’s portion of the overall increase is 5.90%.

On Monday, Jan. 9 at 9:30 a.m., City staff will present the 2023 Budget Overview Report (F-01-23) to the Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability Committee of Burlington City Council. A copy of the report and more information is available on

Budget pressures
The 2023 and 2024 budgets will both be challenging.

Today in Burlington, almost three years of COVID-19 impacts have meant revenue losses and increased expenses. Our city has not kept pace with investing in the services and amenities that our growing community needs. This means we need more amenities like community centres to support our residents. The city must continue to invest in our infrastructure such as our roads, buildings and transit busses. Many people feel this impact every day.

Provincial legislative changes (Bill 23) will download the costs of growth to Burlington. This new provincial legislation reduces the City’s ability to collect fees from developers for future growth-related capital costs such as parkland, roads, transit and recreation facilities.

The 2023 proposed budget before City Council will:

• maintain service levels while recognizing higher than average inflation
• address the continued financial impacts of COVID-19
• dedicate funding to ensure our $5.2 billion of assets are maintained in a state of good repair
• include community investments for the next 50 years such as two new community centers planned to open over the next few years
• stabilize and enhance city services and address the immediate need for an updated non-union compensation program that keeps salaries market competitive
• provide more city services to residents and businesses online digitally

The 2023 proposed budget also directly addresses feedback heard from residents. This includes the need for more bylaw enforcement staff, more animal services staff and education to support our coyote management strategy. It also includes automated speed enforcement to deal with local traffic concerns, additional firefighters and more transit operators. There are key investments in these areas, among others, to better service residents. Learn more at

Opportunities for public engagement
Members of the public can learn more about the proposed 2023 budget and share their feedback in the following ways:

• Join the virtual 2023 Budget Town Hall, hosted by Mayor Marianne Meed Ward on Thursday, Jan. 19, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Visit to join in and watch the meeting on Jan. 19, or in advance to submit your question.

• Register to speak to City Council at the Feb. 6 meeting of the Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability Committee where the proposed budget will be reviewed, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Members of the public who would like to speak at the meeting as a delegation can register by calling 905-335-7777, ext. 7481 or visiting The deadline to register is noon on Feb. 3, 2023.

Key dates and milestones for the 2023 Budget
City meetings for the 2023 Budget are scheduled on the following dates at City Hall in Council Chambers, located at 426 Brant St., second floor. All meetings are hybrid and may be attended in person or watched by livestream online at

Date 2023 Budget Item
Monday, Jan. 9, 9:30 a.m. Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability Committee: Overview of proposed 2023 Budget

Thursday, Jan. 19, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Virtual 2023 Budget Town Hall – watch the meeting and ask your questions at

Monday, Feb. 6, Tuesday, Feb. 7 and Thursday, Feb. 9 at 9:30 a.m. Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability Committee: Review and approval of proposed 2023 Budget, including delegations from the public

Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 9:30 a.m. Meeting of Burlington City Council: City Council to consider approval of proposed 2023 Budget
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Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said: “This budget invests in the services our growing community needs – while playing catch-up. Growth never fully pays for growth, and the province’s Bill 23 cuts municipal funding for things like community centres, transit, libraries and parks.

Nevertheless, we’re committed to ensuring you get the services you need, now and for the future. We also continue to face ongoing challenges of inflation, revenue loss due to the pandemic and a very competitive labour market. We’ve accounted for that in this budget.

“We’re building a strong foundation for our community, not just for this term but for the next generation.”

Tim Commisso, City Manager explained what the city is going to try and get done this way: ““The proposed 2023 Budget, that we are presenting to Council for their consideration in the coming weeks, includes many important investments needed now to improve City services and protect the quality of life that Burlington residents enjoy. In addition to dealing with higher inflation and the continued impacts of the pandemic, the City has fallen behind in a number of service areas and requires that immediate additional funding be directed towards infrastructure like roads and parks that cost more each year to maintain; improving city services like bylaw enforcement, animal control, transit and fires services; new city services including two new community centers and automated speed enforcement; and ensuring we remain market competitive to attract and retain talented City employees.

“As City Manager, I anticipate 2023 and 2024 will be very challenging for Council and I also appreciate these budgets include unprecedented levels of investments that we are asking the community to support. All City staff have worked extremely hard to prepare a responsible budget for Council to consider and the reality is we need to invest more now to maintain and improve the city services that residents expect in the future. Overall, our proposed 2023 budget results in a total tax increase that is in line with current inflation in Ontario.”

Joan Ford, Chief Financial Officer, the person who has to stand guard over the piggy bank, usually referred to as Reserve Funds, added that this is: “a challenging City budget. We are balancing ongoing COVID-19 impacts, facing significant inflationary pressures, maintaining our infrastructure in a state of good repair, and addressing the needs of our growing community which are not fully supported by growth funding. Services and amenities have not kept up with the growth in our community. We are now having to play catch up with our budget.

“Our 2023 budget decisions need to focus on community priorities. Our budget is more than dollars and cents. It impacts residents directly through the many City programs and services you receive. Each time you have your road plowed, use a City park or trail, or cool off in a municipal pool or splash pad, you are seeing your tax dollars at work.”

For Ford, who is nearing the time when she can retire, the amount of debt that city is prepared to take on could be giving her a serious case of indigestion.  Ford is a rock solid “be responsible and don’t spend what you don’t have treasurer.  The city is fortunate enough to have her.

There is information about the proposed 2023 budget at:
There will be a virtual 2023 budget town hall on January 19 at 7 p.m. You have to send your questions to:


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3 comments to City administration gets the first word on the budget they will debate next week. Projection is for a 7.08% increase over last year

  • Michael Hribljan

    The City conducted a survey and held an open house to obtain input from citizens of Burlington. The results are in Appendix C of Report F-01-23. I would say it is buried and wondering if anyone one is reading this?

    Look at Question 7, its very clear what the majority of respondents want, maintain or decrease levels of service.

    Those that answered to increase levels of service are clearly in the minority across all but one category, Climate Change Initiatives, energy efficient buildings, tree planting active transportation, preparing for extreme weather events, etc), which is a 50/50 split.

    So, if our politicians are following what the public is telling them, we should see very few if any increases in service levels. I would say City of Burlington, “get with the program”.

    BTW nice photo of Tim with the “one finger salute eye scratch”.

  • Ted Gamble

    I second the comments from Charles. Nice to have and increase in service levels are not on to begin with.

  • Charles Zach

    The city has been automatically increasing property taxes every year during good economic and bad. Burlingtonians who are on a fixed income or do not work in the public sector experience marginal increases at best or no increases in their income and are falling behind. The City’s willful disregard for the increasing plight of these hapless citizens is driving these people deeper into poverty or forcing them to move away from their home in Burlington. Burlington City Hall has gotten too fat, too entitled and too big. Given that Ontario is already in recession and is predicted to go deeper into economic distress in 2023, it’s time for the City to share the pain of downturn and cut its budget to bring in a 0% property tax increase for 2023. The public sector should not be insulated from the cyclical fluctuations of economic conditions.

    Given the current gaggle of spend thrift councillors, I predict Burlington will be once again forced to swallow a large property tax increase this year to feed the insatiable appetite of BIG GOVERNMENT. Change my mind.