Public gets a chance to opine on the Budget - 65 people take part

By Pepper Parr

January 21st, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There weren’t that many people on the Zoom presentation but the 65 people that did take part seemed to be enough for Mayor Meed Ward.

The presentation that was given was pretty basic.

The Budget Book delivered to Council members is available on line – all 710 + pages.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman admitted that everyone was surprised when the early draft of the budget was very close to 8%. It did get whittled down a little by the time the public got to see the document. The 7.08 isn’t final.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman

There are a few Councillors who have some spending plans of their own. The procedure used has each Councillor filing a form suggesting where they would like to see cuts and where they would like to see some spending.  It looked like there were just two members of Council taking part – there were 18 staff people taking part which included the City Manager

But if you listened carefully there was some good news.

Burlington Transit will be doing an On Demand pilot service in 2023

Youth using transit increased in 2022

MPAC, Municipal Property Assessment Corporation is the organization that determines the value of your home. The taxes you pay are based on what the assessment value you of the house.

We learned that MPAC did not do any assessments during the pandemic – so the assessed value of your home will be what it was in 2020. That number appears on the tax bill.

While no one likes the 2023 budget number 7% the public learned that it won’t be much different in 2024.

Cities rely on assessment growth to increase how much tax they can collect, in Burlington the growth of the assessment base has been in a slump.

With the thousands of new housing units in the pipeline – which can run from something on a planners desk or waiting for a hearing at the Ontario Land Tribunal, assessment will grow – but it will tax at least three and maybe as much as five for that assessment to grow.

This Council has decided that it needs to spend now to be certain that the things people expect – the new Skyway Arena and the re-development of the Bateman High School property are in place. A lot of debt has been taken on and today’s population has to service that debt

A number of people wanted to know why the Master Cycling Plan that was approved by Council has not been funded. No one really got much in the way of a clear answer.

People tuned into the call learned that some work was being done on parts of the Cycling Plan buy that what Council approved is not part of the budget being debated now. Ward 3

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan has indicated that he would like to see more spending on cycling.

Councillor Rory Nisan has some ideas on what could be done; watch for those.

Mayor Meed Ward went to some lengths to polish the image of the Bateman property explain that the 200,000 square feet of space that will be available for public use is double the amount of space at Tansley Woods.

A plan in the budget is to add seven new bylaw officers over the next three years and to create a new department that will handle bylaw related matters.

There were some questions that were not answered – they just ran out of time – they will be answered in a follow up that should be ready early next week.
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4 comments to Public gets a chance to opine on the Budget – 65 people take part

  • Barry Y

    I found this paragraph interesting, leading to questions:

    A plan in the budget is to add seven new bylaw officers over the next three years and to create a new department that will handle bylaw related matters.

    Sounds like a large number of new employees. How many bylaw officers are there currently? And creating a new department, which means a least one manager, perhaps more staff. How many in total? My guess is this will result in close to a $1M yearly budget requirement with staff, vehicles, etc. What is the justification for this spend and more bylaw officers? Is it proportional to city population growth?

    Perhaps these questions are answered in the 700+ page budget document. I hope it has a good index.

  • David

    I get to pay more money for the current things I never use and, I get to have a look at the new things I will never use either.

  • Michael Hribljan

    Seven percent, are you kidding me, this is completely irresponsible and a failure of our council. They will have their taking points, but does not align with the city’s survey results, to suggest otherwise is gaslighting.

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