There was information the city should have made available to the public when it voted on the tax rate increase for 2023

By Pepper Parr

February 17th, 2023



The tax increase is 7.52

It is made up of:
• City 6.34%
• Region of Halton 1.18%
• Boards of Education 0.0%

Included is an Infrastructure levy.  The City’s approved an Asset Management Financing Plan, that continues to include a dedicated infrastructure levy to address the renewal of the city’s $5.2 billion of assets. The 2023 Budget includes $3,065,000 equivalent to 0.79% of the total tax increase.

As for the 2022 surplus – we are going to have to wait for that number.  Traditionally the figure is made public during the budget debates and usually included as motion as to where the surplus would be placed.  Some time ago there was a surplus in access of $9 million – the result of staff gapping. The city manager who let that happen ‘vacated’ his office.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns did try to run a tight budget meeting – her efforts were lost when the recommendation got to Council.

During the budget debate we did learn that the Tax Stabilization Reserve was very low – again no number was made public – other than to hear Budget Chair Lisa Kearns say that that reserve had been raided too often and needed to be replenished.

Staff will be reporting to the March 29th CSSRA meeting with the 2022 Operating Budget Performance including the year-end financial position.

There were two consistent features in the way city council decided how they wanted to spend the taxes they expect to collect in the 2023 fiscal year.

(1) During the budget debates they couldn’t find a way to reduce the 7.08% tax increase that Staff said was necessary to continue delivering the services people expected. Council went in the other direction and added – pushing the tax increases to 7.52% – and said publicly that the same level of increase could be expected in the 2024 fiscal year.

(2) The debates part of the budget decision was a sloppy meeting that was rushed.  Three days were set aside for the budget debate.  This Council pushed and pushed to get it all done in a single day.  They got a little “punch drunk” in the final hours and managed to vote on motions that had yet to be put before the public.  The information normally appears on a screen after which the Chair asks the Clerk to call a vote.

Council was in the process of voting when the information appeared on the screen.  It didn’t stay there very long.

The council vote to accept the committee recommendation said very little about the numbers they were presented with. They all focused on a “patting of the back” exercise.  Staff that put the budget together deserved to be congratulated as did the City Manager and the Treasurer who are now going to have to make it all work

Translating the budget number into the tax a resident would have to pay based on the assessed value of the property was not made public during the Council meeting either.

Rough shod is an apt description of the performance.

There are three items for which funds were sought and approved that need a closer look. The Gazette will work at getting that information to its readers.

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1 comment to There was information the city should have made available to the public when it voted on the tax rate increase for 2023

  • Lynn Crosby

    The constant praising of themselves and each other is getting beyond annoying. Just do the job we pay you to do and try actually being transparent.

    Just like the big show at BPAC to congratulate themselves on a horribly low voter turnout – what did that cost? Humble, they aren’t. The giving every council member a title of Deputy Mayor of Whatever is comical. Literally, many of us laugh out loud whenever they refer to themselves this way now. It’s like the “everyone gets a trophy for showing up” thing. Though many suspect the real purpose is so they can call themselves Deputy Mayors on the campaign trail in four years, especially helpful to any of them thinking they’ll run for mayor. More help for the incumbents? What a joke.

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