2022 Budget: a tax increase <1%

The main agenda item on the November 15 council agenda is the budget for 2022. Our Treasurer will be making a presentation at the outset of the meeting so I encourage you to tune in to the live stream.   This is the same presentation which she used at the November 10th public information session; it has been posted already on same page where the draft budget is posted. The draft budget proposes an increase in the Township portion of the property tax of.16%. This meets the direction that Council previously gave to deliver a budget as close to zero as possible. But, having reviewed the budget carefully I believe that there are additional initiatives that Council should consider as they offer valuable customer service improvement and address future operating cost pressures associated with the new Township wide recreation centre. I think we could do this and achieve a tax increase of 0.9%.

Capital budget totals $47.3 million. Sources include grants and developer contributions, development charges, reserves and the tax levy. The latter is $4.2 million which is same as 2021.    The capital budget for the new recreation centre dominates the capital budget over the next three years; it totals $75.8 million. The major source of funding is the grants from the federal and provincial governments totaling $38.8 million; development charges and developer contributions total $36.1 million with the balance of $611,000 coming from the growth and infrastructure reserve fund.  On pages 25-27 of the Council report all projects being funded in 2022 are identified. Note:  the later does not include two park projects in King City (Ward 5) which were funded in 2021 but unfortunately execution has been delayed until spring 2022.

In some of the capital budgets of each department there will be new vehicle purchases. I will be asking for a policy that all future vehicle purchases will be electric and that if appropriate electric vehicle is not available per the required time that alternatives are assessed rather than buying an asset (internal combustion engine) which will be rendered obsolete. Alternatives include renting a vehicle and using longer than we do so traditionally. Exemptions to the policy should be defined (e.g.  fire trucks ,snow plows) and be reviewed periodically to assess technology advancement.   As necessary reserves such as the climate change reserve should be accessed if there is a premium for the electric option.

As I have said already I think we need to look beyond 2022 budget and tax increase. The draft budget is for an increase of.16% which is <$5/property; this follows the 0% increase in 2021. As reviewed in the draft budget on page 31 of 332 and in the Staff report there are forecasts for subsequent years based on numerous identified assumptions which are >4% each year. Notwithstanding that the next Council can make choices to reduce those forecasts I think the important message to us today, as we make the decision about taxes for 2022, is that we cannot “keep kicking the can down the road.”

For example: Just as our current recreational facilities are subsidized the new recreation centre will be subsidized but that subsidy will be much greater than what we have experienced to date because of its size and the inclusion of the pool. Wisely, staff have recommended that we should add each year to our base budget a portion of the forecasted incremental cost. In 2019 we did add $150,000 and are doing so in 2022; hence there will still be $634,000 to be added to the base budget. As noted earlier, the draft 2021 budget provides forecasts for the outyears and indicates that we are going to add $317,000 in 2023 and in 2024.  (see page 30 of 332) I think we should be adding $150,000 -200,000 in 2022 to lessen the burden in the out years.  I believe this could be done, in addition to the other program changes which I endorse, and the ultimate tax increase would be 0.9%. I will be confirming my assumptions with the Treasurer.

I support the two program change requests included in the budget.

  • One is for the hiring of two additional students to assist with the increase in horticultural requirements created by the assumption of new subdivisions and the streetscaping projects on King Rd in King City and Nobleton. Without the additional resources there will be untended flower beds and hanging pots which beautify the roadscapes.
  • The other program change included is to hire a public works permit coordinator. As reviewed in the program change request (see page 172 of 332) the administrative tasks done by such a coordinator are currently being done by our engineers and thus taking their time away from their technical work.  In total these two changes amount to $51,000

Because Council gave staff direction to deliver a budget as close to zero as possible the draft budget does not include 3 service improvements but does provide the information about the opportunity and the cost. I believe we should make these service improvements. Total impact of these 3 initiatives is $51,392. (Coincidentally, this is about same amount as the 2 program changes recommended to be included in draft budget.)

  • Hire 2 additional part time staff so that Cold Creek is open 7 days a week. As reviewed in the draft budget (see page 95 of 332) there is good usage of trails
  • Contract for a service to provide security in the parks and enforcement of the parking by law and the fireworks by law in our communities on an as needed basis.  e.g. both long weekends in May and July and during the winter parking restrictions. The value of such during the long weekends in 2021 was well demonstrated. (see page 146 of 332.)
  • Hire a public works permit coordinator. As reviewed in the program change request (see page 172 of 332) the administrative tasks done by such a coordinator are currently being done by our engineers and thus taking their time away from their technical work.
  • Provide winter maintenance of 2 paths In King City which are used by pedestrians to get to the GO train station. Enabling pedestrian access to the GO train Is important as parking at the station is inadequate; plus walking use of trails paths and sidewalks is consistent with their active transportation strategy. (see page 174 of 332.)

As always you can register to make a deputation and/or can send in your comments for the Council by contacting [email protected] by noon the day of the Council meeting which is Monday, Nov. 15.

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