City budget for 2018 - what might we be looking at?

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

September 20, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

While the city beavers away at getting all the public participation for the Mobility Hubs done and another group in the Planning department works through the steps that will be involved in getting what is going to be built on the Waterfront Hotel site clarified and the people over at Transit get used to the idea that theirs is going to be a much different world if what the City Manager had to say at a recent Council meeting was real, there is another department finalizing some of its work and will have information for all of us real soon – the BUDGET.

Tax Capital budget infogr 2017

The budget for Capital spending in 2017

The Finance department works to a well-honed time line to get all the numbers pulled up from the departments and worked into a number that gets cleared at the Executive level within city hall.

By this time the first cut of the budget is pretty clear in the minds of the people that do the number crunching.

The million or so that is going to have to be put into Transit is something they are probably still digesting.

Budget 2015 Services at the centre of it all

The processes that a budget has to go through involves some complex procedures – the theory is that any new spending has to be supported by a business case.

The 2018 budget timelines call for a December approval of the Capital Budget and a January approval of the Operating Budget.

The people over at Finance tell us that in future years “we will be targeting more aggressive timelines which would bring both the Capital and Operating Budgets forward together in advance of year-end (excluding election years).

The timeline of the budget process for 2018 looks like this:

A Committee of the Whole meeting: Capital Budget Overview: November 9, 2017
Capital Council Information Session: November 16, 2017
A Committee of the Whole Capital Budget Review: December 1, 2017
A Committee of the Whole Operating Budget Overview: December 1, 2017
Council Capital Budget Approval: December 11, 2017
Operating Council Information Session: December 12, 2017
COW – Operating Budget Review: January 18, 2018
Council Operating Budget Approval: January 22, 2018

The 2017 budget hit the people of Burlington with a 4%+ tax increase. The budget for 2016 wasn’t any better.

The long term thinking in 2016 was for there to be some pretty stiff budget increases that would in 2019.

Financial impact 20 year

The actual tax rate was always higher that the projection. The city of Hamilton kept their 2017 tax rate to less than 2%.

 

 

In 2016 the Mayor asked the city manager to look for new revenue sources. There was talk then about a Storm Water Management tax – that didn’t’ fly for a number of technical regions.

An architects rendering of the new entrance to the Joseph Brant Hospital whch will now face the lake. The entrance will be off LAkeshore Road with the new parking lot just to the west of the hospital.

The Joseph Brant Hospital now faces the lake.

The city is still paying down our part of the $60 million that we had to put up for the new and re-developed Joseph Brant Hospital. (Burlington actually had to come up with $120 million – half through a tax levy and the other half was to be raised by the Hospital Foundation.) When that special tax levy was put in place the understanding was that it would end when the hospital was paid for – that isn’t going to happen. The Finance people have built that special tax levy into their regular revenue.

When the $60 million cost was put on the table the then city manager Jeff Fielding said it was the largest sum of money the city has ever had to budget for – he might have added that it was going to be funds the city could look forward to spending forever.

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3 comments to City budget for 2018 – what might we be looking at?

  • Stephen White

    So the question becomes: how many other municipalities had to “pony up” a levy to pay for hospital upgrades and improvements? If the answer to that question is “none” then it begs the next question: what makes Burlington so unique that we need to?

    Sorry, but at some point we really need to bell the cat on municipal finances. I don’t see a levy being raised in other municipalities to pay for hospital upgrades. Did it occur in Oakville when they built their new hospital? Probably not.

    If the hospital is built and open then the levy should end once the $60 million has been amassed. If the Hospital needs more money then let the Foundation raise it. Sticking it on the backs of taxpayers is neither fair nor honest.

    As for budget consultation,

  • B. Wayne

    If Club Link can consider it so should the City. We have a golf course that loses money every year that is sitting on prime real estate. That would go along way in paying off debt and infrastructure investment.

    • Tom Muir

      B. Wayne,

      I don’t like the idea of selling the family jewels, or chopping up the furniture, to feed the fire of spending that city hall has built into where they are taking us, or better, where they say they are taking us.

      Wait and see what’s said this year.