What will the 2019 tax increase be ? Let's hope the new council is open and honest about what the taxes are going to be.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 21st, 2018



On Jan. 29, 2018, Burlington City Council approved the 2018 Operating Budget with a 4.36% city tax increase, resulting in a 2.64% overall tax increase.

Everything about that statement which appears on the city website is true.

However, the only number that the newly elected city council can do anything about is the city’s budget.

Stolte and Kearns - budget book

Newly elected city Councillors Shawna Stolte (ward 4) and Lisa Kearns (ward 2) look over the budget book for 2018. They will get the budget book for 2019 later this year.

The tax bill residents receive includes the city’s tax, the Board of Education tax and the tax levied by the Regional Council.

The city has absolutely no impact on the tax levy from the school board. All the city does is collect the money for the Boards of Education.

At the Regional level Burlington has 7 votes out of a total of 21 votes. We have influence but the Regional tax level which covers waste collection, social services, police, part of the water system and health services to name some of what the Region does are not decisions Burlington Regional Councillors make in isolation.

Something many people don’t realize is that half of a Burlington council member’s income comes from the Region.

That 2.64% that the city makes mention of is the result of averaging the three – Boards of Education, Region and the city tax levy.

It is convenient for the politicians to use the average number – it is lower, makes them look better.

Burlington has had annual increases that were either more than 4% or just under that level in each of the past seven years. It was only in the first year of the council that served from 2018 to 2014 when the tax increase over the previous year was 0%.

That feat was achieved for the most part by then newcomer to city council Paul Sharman who just pushed and pushed and pushed and made it happen.

It will be interesting to see if the five people elected to council for the first time  will be honest, open and transparent about how much of your money they are going to collect

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2 comments to What will the 2019 tax increase be ? Let’s hope the new council is open and honest about what the taxes are going to be.

  • Phillip Wooster

    I don’t believe at this late stage of the budgetary process, the new mayor and council will be able to address the lack of zero-based budgeting in a meaningful way. I’m prepared to cut them some slack and anticipate another City increase in the 4% range. However, I do think they will need to direct the managers of the City departments to implement a zero-based budget for January, 2020–these increases in City taxes are not sustainable. Of course, budgets will be impacted by the federal Liberals insatiable thirst for money in the form of carbon taxes.

    • Tom Muir

      Phil, you are wrong on what they can do.

      I have to say again and again that the Council can just tell the managers to meet the target and that they can decide how to do that.

      No excuses! Just do it.

      That’s how it works every day in government. I know from 35 years of doing it.