Rates and fees will be increased by 3% for almost everything - final decisions to be made December 13th at Council

By Staff

December 8th, 2022



The recommendation that came out of the Standing Committee earlier this week was to approve the 2023 rates and fees as outlined in finance department report effective January 1, 2023 unless otherwise indicated.

The debate on the fee increases was robust at the Standing Committee earlier this week.

Expect some changes to what is set out below.

The common thread throughout the report was to increase almost everything by 3% to align with inflation.

Marriage license fees were not increased – but that was about it on the no increase column.

City staff undertakes an annual review of rates and fees. The results of this review have been incorporated in the 2023 City of Burlington Rates and Fees. Many services are proposing an average of a 3% increase to rates and fees to balance the impact of inflation with the desire to keep rates affordable for residents and user groups who are also feeling the impact of inflation. Some areas have undergone a comprehensive fee review in 2022 resulting in increased rates, and as such are holding 2023 rates flat.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact many and several areas continue flatline fees to extend financial relief where possible.

The rationale for charging user fees is that those who clearly benefit from a service should be the ones to pay for it. User fees form one of the most significant portions of revenue earned by the City after property tax revenues. To mitigate property tax increases, the City of Burlington has been proactive in ensuring that the services provided by the City reflect a high level of cost recovery to the greatest extent possible while balancing affordability and providing access to services.
A summary of the proposed fee changes for each service is listed below:

A City That Grows
Community Design and Development Review
A Comprehensive Fee Review was conducted in early 2022. As a result, a new fee schedule was implemented. The Site Plan Admin Fee, which was previously a standalone fee, is now captured in the Planning Application Fee. The new rates and fees are effective January 1st, with a proposed 3.0% indexation to offset the impact of inflation.

Building Code Permits and Inspections
The Building Code Act (BCA), 1992 provides municipalities with the authority to collect fees to fully recover the cost of administration and enforcement of the BCA and the Ontario Building Code (OBC). Regulations made under the BCA/OBC outline the details of what can be included as part of the cost including direct and indirect costs, and provisions for a reserve fund. The basic principle for providing building permit and inspection services is: “Fees for Service.”
Rates and fees within the Section 6.11 of the City of Burlington Building Permit By-law 66-2019 as amended, are indexed to the overall % increase for the total Human Resource expenditures as approved in the annual budget in relation to the Building Section and are to be adjusted annually on February 1st. Flat fee rates shall be rounded to the nearest dollar amount (increments of half dollar shall be rounded up). All other fees shall be rounded to the nearest cent.

City That Moves
• Transit
Cash fare will remain the same for 2023 at $3.50 for all age groups. Riders can take advantage of age-based concessions using a PRESTO card, which is the preferred fare payment method.
To align further with Metrolinx fare concessions, Burlington Transit is continuing to use the loyalty program. Instead of selling monthly passes, riders will be charged for each ride up to 39 rides. If they go beyond 39 rides, there is no additional fares taken for the month. This was identified as an enhancement to the fare payment program due to COVID-19 in March 2020. This approach ensures that riders are only charged for what they use.
The goal by 2024 is to align the loyalty program with Metrolinx, by which the number of rides required for loyalty will be 40 rides. Each year an additional ride will be added to the Loyalty rates.
In 2022, credit and debit card payment were added as a payment method for fare payments. Credit and debit card charges align with the cash fare fees.
The Conventional and Specialized Charter rates were increased by approximately 3% to $138.65 per hour to account for increased fuel and maintenance costs.

• Traffic Operations Management
A proposed increase of 3% in 2023 has been applied to all fees to account for inflation.

• Parking
Parking Services intends to review costs with the planned implementation of the City- wide permit system in 2023. As such, no increase to the Neighbourhood On-Street Parking Program (NOSPP) and Private Property Agency Officer fees are proposed at this time.

• Roads and Structures – Design and Construction
Tender Fees have increased by 2% to be in line with neighbouring municipalities while remaining competitive. The Trench Excavation and Driveway Modification Permits have increased by 3% to cover the increase in staff time required with the utility corporations. The Curb Cut permits have increased by 3% to cover the anticipated increase to the curb cutting contract and administrative support.

Fees associated with occupying space within the City’s right-of-way have been implemented to administer conditions for approval and compliance enforcement.

• Roadway and Sidewalk Maintenance
Upon completion of a market scan and to align with inflation rates, an increase of 3% in 2023 is proposed for the windrow program.

A Healthy and Greener City
Recreation, Community and Culture
With a focus on increasing participation and fostering a sense of belonging for all residents, rates and fees are determined by community needs, customer feedback, participation rates, and market trends and competition.

Rate owners performed a market analysis to determine Burlington’s competitive position. Rates were evaluated and compared to neighbouring municipalities such as Oakville, Hamilton, Halton Hills, Guelph, and Milton to ensure reasonability. For 2023, there is a continued focus on keeping rates affordable to encourage participation for everyone.
Proposed Rate Increases:
• 3% average increase for Music, Teen Tour Band & Student Theatre
• 2% increase for Festivals & Events
• 3 % increase for Arena Ice & Floor
• 3% increase for School Board amenities
• 3% increase for Sport Fields & Turf
• 2% increase for Older Adult Drop-In Programs
• 2% average increase for Aquatics Recreational Programs
• 3% increase for Outdoor Pool rentals
• 2% increase for Skate & 3% for Shinny
• 3% average increase for Youth, Teen & Preschool Recreational Programs
• 3% increase for Tyandaga Memberships & Green Fees
• 3% increase for Indoor space rentals (Meeting Rooms, Gyms, Auditoriums & Equipment)
• 2% increase in Advertising (Arena Boards & Flyer Slots)

New Rates
• Neighbourhood Park Events in Open Spaces for non-profit & commercial
• Destination Park Events in Open Spaces non-profit & commercial
• Elgin Promenade standard & commercial / non-resident Rate Delivery Changes:
• Youth, Teen & Preschool Recreational Programs have been replaced with an hourly rate structure to provide more programming flexibility. The overall cost of the program to customers remains unchanged
• Bistro Services shown at 100% cost recovery – the program is still offered, and prices change based on the fluctuating cost of food
• Discontinue Aquatics Leadership Practice drop ins and replace with existing Leadership Sessions which are proving to be more successful as they offer onsite Aquatic staff to support and coach candidates
• Discontinue Park rentals and replace with new rates Neighbourhood and Destination Park Events
• Discontinue Student Theatre Summer or Spring Salute & Senior Show Ticket and continue to offer show tickets in conjunction with BPAC partnership with rates based on time of purchase
• Discontinue Tyandaga golf lesson packages and continue to offer lessons through a third-party partnership
• Discontinue Tyandaga tournament and league play cart rates and replace with regular cart rate

Discontinued Rates
• Discontinue & remove Tyandaga 40 game and cart discount packages, larger discounts not required due to increase in overall demand

• Parks and Open Space Maintenance
An increase of 3% in 2023 is proposed for the adopt-a-bed program and the downtown planters. Rates had been flatlined during the pandemic, so the increase is necessary to account for an increase in material costs and inflation.

• Urban Forestry
Forestry staff completed a comprehensive review of the private tree by-law in 2022 with changes to rates and fees coming into effect during the 2nd quarter of 2022. For 2023, a 3% increase to public tree permits is proposed.

• Cemetery
An increase of 3% is proposed for cemetery services to align with the increase in inflation.

• Surface Water Drainage
For 2023 it is recommended that the fees related to Site Alterations be increased by 3%. Fees related to Storm Sewer Discharge permits were established in June 2022 and are recommended to stay at the 2022 rate. Increases for these fees will be considered for 2024.

A Safe City
• Fire Emergency Response and Prevention
The objective of the rates and fees billed by Fire Protection and Prevention Service is to promote and support fire safety in the community, encourage Fire Code (O.Reg.
213/07) compliance, decrease emergency incidents, mitigate costs incurred due to non- compliance, additional costs incurred at an incident, and for any services or activities provided or done by or on behalf of another municipality (Municipal Act, 2001). There are no rate changes proposed for 2023.

• Animal Services
The primary reason for inflationary increases in Animal Services is to keep fees consistent with City administration and enforcement costs. Some fees have traditionally been adjusted annually for inflation while other fees have been more comprehensively reviewed against costs and market rates for equivalent service(s).
Fee increases vary by each service type and reflect a 3% increase, with some fees being rounded to the nearest dollar. This increase is in line with current inflationary costs due to economic pressures and the associated costs with obtaining supplies necessary to keep the shelter operating.

• Municipal By-Law Enforcement
No changes proposed for existing enforcement fees as major review was conducted in 2021 and fees were updated at that time.

• Licensing
Licensing rates and fees have been flat-lined to the 2022 fees to provide further financial relief to Burlington businesses still recovering post-COVID-19.

Good Governance
• Corporate Legal
In September 2022 the Community Benefit Charge (CBC) was adopted to respond to legislation. As part of the process, developers have the option to dispute the charge and seek a second appraisal. If the developer’s appraisal exceeds the City appraisal by 5%, the developer must select an appraiser from the City’s list of appraisers to perform a final binding (third) appraisal, with the owner being responsible for the full cost of the appraisal.
All other Corporate Legal fees remain unchanged for 2023.

Enabling Services
• Financial Management
Finance staff have reviewed fees to ensure that the City’s rates are reasonable, appropriate, and comparable to other municipalities. As a result, the Financial Management Service rates have remained unchanged for 2023, except for three fees, specifically; Tax Certificates has been increased approximately 3.00%, from $55.00 to $56.50, Administration Charge for Returned Payments (NSF) increased by 12.5%, from $40.00 to $45.00 and Administration fee for Ownership Changes increased by 14% from $35.00 to $40.00.

• Service Burlington
Clerks annually reviews fees across area municipalities to ensure the City’s fees are in line with other municipalities. As a result:
• Commissioning Services and Burial Permits: No proposed increase. These fees are in line with area municipalities.
• Marriage License Application: No proposed increase. These fees are in line with neighbouring municipalities

• Group Home fees has not been increased since 2012 and the city is significantly below area municipalities. Last year we proposed a 25% increase spread out over 5 years which resulted in a fee increase of 5% per year. This would be the 2nd year of the recommended 5% increase.
• Routine Disclosure: These fees are in line with fees charged through Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy ACT. Clerks is not proposing any fee increases for these services.
• Certified true copies – new fee established to be in line with neighbouring municipalities. Added this year due to increased prevalence of public requesting charges and subsequent need for cost recovery, the clerk is required to provide certified true copies of city owned documents in accordance with the municipal act section 253(2), and Council may establish a fee.
• Legislated FOI fees (search, preparation, photocopy, external storage device, computer costs) added in accordance with MFIPPA Regulation 823 section 6 and
6.1. The fees have been added for formal Council authorization to charge the legislated fees prescribed under MFIPPA regulation, aligning with neighboring municipalities.

• Sign Production Service
An increase of 3% is proposed for sign production services to align with the increase in inflation. Six new fees are being added to satisfy customer demand and broaden the sign offerings to the public

• Geographic Information and Mapping
Where applicable, existing fees are proposed to increase by 3% for inflationary reasons. Printing services are no longer offered by this service area and have been removed.
Document retrieval of all plan types has been grouped into one activity.

• Corporate – City Wide Charges
Corporate fees reflect items charged across city services. Fees are centralized to ensure consistency in charging across the organization. There are no proposed fee increases to corporate fees for 2023.

Rates and fees are reviewed annually by City staff and adjusted where appropriate to reflect cost increases while ensuring that market conditions are suitable for the adjustments.

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1 comment to Rates and fees will be increased by 3% for almost everything – final decisions to be made December 13th at Council

  • Charles Zach

    Burlington City Council is killing us with their reckless spending and automatic annual property tax hikes regardless of economic circumstances. Only the greedy and selfish Burlington public sector benefits while helpless Burlingtonians on a fixed income are driven further into poverty and forced out of their beloved city. This is vile! Re-electing these socialists villains was a major mistake.