Standing committee settles on a tax levy for the operations budget - not the 3.99% the Mayor vowed to deliver.

budget 2021By Pepper Parr

February 25th, 2021



They wrapped it up.

We now know what the tax levy is going to be for the fiscal year: they are going to tax the public a total of $182,276,388.

We don’t know yet what that will translate into in terms of a percentage and what it will mean in terms of how much taxation for every $100,000 of property assessment.

Those details were not presented to the public during the meeting. It does not appear that the Mayor is going to be able to deliver on the promise of a tax increase over last year of not more than 3.99%

It looks like it will come in at about 4.05%

Before the lunch break the percentage over last year was 4.14%.  Members of Council decided they would dive back into the budget and see if they could change their minds on some of the decisions they had made.

That’s when things got sticky.  The rules of the game on a reconsideration of a vote call for a person who voted for the original motion to bring a motion that needs a 2/3rds majority to pass.

Rory H&S 2

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan chaired the committee that handled the budget review. He is said to have his eyes on the Office of the Mayor once Meed Ward has moved on to greener pastures.

Chair of the meeting, Rory Nisan, did everything he could to get around that problem.

They went for lunch before they had a solution.

There is a contingency Reserve fund that had $1.8 million put into it – which was an increase over last year.  Mayor Meed Ward wanted to decrease the increase by about 10% which would have allowed them to get to her much desired 3.99% tax increase.

Her colleagues were having none of it and went after the Mayor for raiding the Reserve Funds piggy bank.  The account had something in the order of $9 million it.

Galbraith with two women in Tim

Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith listening to what his constituents have to say.

Councillor Galbraith said he got far too many negative comments from his ward about the way reserve funds were being raised.  He wasn’t on for more of that.

Councillor Bentivegna said raiding reserves was not what he wanted to do.  If the increase was higher than the 3.99% – so be it.

City Manager Tim Commisso said that while there was some risk chipping away on what was going to be salted away the one before Council didn’t bother him that much.

Something had changed.  Members of Council appeared to have stopped buying into the Mayor’s 3.99%.  It took a bit for that change to sink in and while the Mayor never did say she would go with the will of her colleagues – it appears that she is going to have to find words to get her out of this one.

Council with clerk

This is city council, Lisa Kearns is missing. City Manager, top left and Committee Clerk bottom right.

Later this week there will be a carefully worded media release giving this budget that rosy red glow that the apple polishers can do to fruit that may have gone past its best before date.

It all goes to Council on March 3rd.  Several Council members chose to withhold their comments on the budget until it gets to Council on the third.

This may not be over yet.

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4 comments to Standing committee settles on a tax levy for the operations budget – not the 3.99% the Mayor vowed to deliver.

  • Alan Harrington

    Something doesn’t make sense?

    We elected a bright new young energetic council to bring fresh creative ideas to the table.

    All that is asked is to limit a tax INCREASE to only 3.99%.

    This in a year when most city services are not even available:

    City Hall was CLOSED all year.

    Libraries, Hockey Rinks, Playgrounds, Swimming Pools, Sports fields, Gyms, Performing Arts Centre. Museums. Theatres. Court Houses… all slammed shut and sealed up tight.

    No SoM Concerts nor Ribfest to clean up.
    Transit buses ran empty (sometimes) to empty GO Train Stations

    No Christmas Parade(s). No Remembrance Day. Even the Cherry Blossoms got fenced in.

    A City Rebranding signage plan scheduled for 2020 never even happened.

    All the while, Burlington home prices keep skyrocketing.

    Did Oakville and Milton exact dynamic cost saving ideas Burlington could copy?

    What do other cities with same populations do? Sherbrooke, Sudbury, Richmond Hill, Windsor, Abbotsford, Oshawa, Guelph… Do they all just allow tax increases too?

    Surely some “up in the air thinking could bridge the gap”.

    How about Burlington Skyway bridge tolls with transponders?
    150K+ vehicles a day @ $1 each. Problem solved.
    Worked in the 1960s.

  • Tom Battaglia

    Reduce funding to non essential services! 3.99 is still to high.

  • Blair Smith

    Any increase above the cost of living (approx. 1%) represents an abject failure on the part of this Council to identify their core business lines and reduce funding, as needed, to all “discretionary spending”. And citizens should be hearing all the discussion.

  • So is this the beginning of the end for this council. We threw out the last one over tall buildings which are still going up taller than ever everywhere. In the midst of a pandemic these folks could not find enough non-essntial fluff to ge the increase to 3.99% when inflation is currently less than1/2 of that 3.99% number. Definitely a lack of leadrship at city hall in my view just a bunch of folks working to be re-elected.