Still some serious concerns with the budget: Mayor wanted Council to endorse her plans for 2025 and 2026 budgets - they chose not to

By Pepper Parr

December 1st, 2023



We are still on that budget.

Mayor Meed Ward’s original intention was to have Council endorse

Directing the Chief Financial Officer to prepare the draft operating and capital budgets for 2025 and 2026 whereby the city’s portion of the overall property tax increase is not to exceed 3.99% of which approximately:

    • 2.99% is for city services; and
    • 1% is for city infrastructure renewal funding;
    • and that the draft budgets be provided to the Mayor in preparation of the Mayor’s Proposed Budget in each year

but two Councillors wanted to ensure that the public had an opportunity to comment on the idea.

Sensing that she didn’t have the support she needed to proceed Meed Ward withdrew the 2025 and 2026 budget references and put the item on a future Council agenda.

The problem now is the item is not yet on the agenda for the series of meetings taking place next week.

In order to address Council delegators have to get their requests in before noon today.

Instead of working with the Clerk’s Office to get the agenda concerns taken care of Mayor Meed Ward chose to hold a drop in (on very short notice with no media notice) at City Hall on Thursday.  Mayor still has the cart before the horse on engagement with the public.

While all this is going on Eric Stern, one of the Aldershot citizens who delegated, wants people to fully understand what happened during the budget debates during November.

It is not a pretty picture.

Stern said that the “90s generation has called and they want their tax cuts back.

“We can’t go back in time, past mismanagement means future pain. It’s time for a zero-based budgeting approach. Every service, every position, “needs” have to be reviewed and “wants” eliminated. City Hall caused this mess – share the pain.”

Stern questions the hiring of somewhere between 50 and 90 new employees? “The province has a hiring freeze. Are Community gardens – volunteers, firefighters  what we can afford. Stern suggests expanding the existing volunteer force. Middle management? – promote internally. “Investing” in new hires does not improve reserve fund balances.

“City hall has created a world where “investment” means “spending”, “impacts” have to be doubled to understand increases, and Doug Ford “forced” the mayor to rush this process and limit citizen input. Ultimately we get a bill where the increase bears no relation to any of the information presented to us.

“Why is this so complex? ” asks Sterns. “Taxpayers trust city hall with OUR money. What has gone wrong? We are discussing $438 million dollars in spending, this is a major corporation, not an episode of Parks and Recreation.”

In the slides set out below Stern makes a number of very significant points where he believes the city failed to meet the Municipal Act – the provincial legislation that sets out the relationship between the province and the 400 municipalities in the province.  A couple of them are glaring.

Eric Stern delved into the data the city provided and came up with more questions and not enough in the way of an understanding how everything was going to be paid for – he could see a wave of tax increases coming and a community that he felt could not afford what the city wanted to do.



Stern presented slides that set out where he felt mistakes had been made. The budgeting process is complex but doesn’t have to be as bad as this. References were made to how much better the Oakville budget presentation is – changes are need said Stern along with several other delegations.



Stern pointed out where the data the Finance department didn’t make any sense.



Stern put together data with startling projections. City Manager Tim Commisso pointed out that for a nine year period there were 0 tax increases. Maintenance and planning for growth were not given the attention they deserved – now the city is playing catch up – and it is proving to be very expensive.

There is the sense that the process of putting a budget in place is not under control. The Mayor chose to use the Strong Powers that were available to her; that resulted in a rush to get the document completed and approved. Many citizens felt there was a rush that wasn’t necessary.

To add to the pace of things the city is now looking for a new City Manger. Tim Commisso announced a few weeks ago that he would not seek an extension of his contract.

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2 comments to Still some serious concerns with the budget: Mayor wanted Council to endorse her plans for 2025 and 2026 budgets – they chose not to

  • Stephen White

    The Mayor might want to consider a measure adopted by the provincial NDP government in the 1990’s. It was called “Rae Days”, in honour of the feckless former NDP premier of Ontario who has now morphed into a good Liberal and gone to his just reward at the United Nations.

    To address the provincial deficit the NDP mandated that provincial employees take a pre-determined number of unpaid days off work each year. The employees took the time off, but they weren’t paid. The cost savings were then applied against the provincial deficit, a deficit which, by the way, had ballooned from a $675 million surplus in 1990 to a $17 billion deficit in 1993; ergo, the need for cost controls.

    So…applying it to present circumstances: if the municipal budget comes in at anything in excess of 2% in 2025 then the excess comes out of the pockets of our municipal public servants and elected officials. If the deficit is $10 million, and the municipal daily payroll is $1 million, that equates to 10 unpaid days and the salary recovery is applied against the deficit. Adjustments can be made so lower paid employees take fewer days, and higher paid employees take more.

    Maybe if Council and their dutiful minions at City Hall had a little more “skin in the game” they might be a more fiscally prudent and responsible. Also, given that an article in the Gazette a couple of years ago indicated that most City of Burlington public servants don’t actually live in Burlington, and aren’t “on the hook” for shouldering the tax hike, this might be an effective way of “sharing the load”. Since this Council is all about transparency and good corporate citizenship I’m sure they’d be enthusiastic about endorsing this idea….or maybe not.

  • Anne amd Dave Marsden

    You betcha there are still some very serious issues with this budget. Non compiance with legislation is a very serious issue. Some of us will not let go of the “ultra vires” aspects of the process, no matter how the Mayor and her cohorts try to set them aside. Aspects that saw transparency, public engagement and legislation compliance out the window. Add to that her ridiculous, repetitve nonsensical response to these issues “Dougie and his new legislation gave us no option” !!!!!!!!! There has to be a means that does not involve bankrupting ourselves to obtain the accountability we are legislated to have from our Council. Get your thinking caps on “folks” as the Mayor calls you!