Agenda Notes: Finances, politics, and elections

Municipalities objecting to bill 108

By: Laura Steiner

Milton Council meets tonight at 7 p.m.  There is a 10 page agenda that includes two public meetings on developments in the Boyne area, a budget call report, and a report on Arnold Huffman’s election expenses.  Both could be politically charged.

The budget call report is where the “rubber hits the road,” as far as municipal finances are concerned.  Here is where the framework for the 2019 budget is established.  The staff recommends: “Identification of the cost pressures associated with existing service levels, and: options to reduce the tax levy impact for 2019.”  In other words they suggest cost of existing services, and tax reducing measures be provided to the new council.

The big question is how long can council realistically keep taxes low? Business growth is being outstripped by residential growth= more houses are being built than business are coming. The report identifies an infrastructure deficit, and staffing shortfalls among its challenges.  There could come a time where the question of a tax increase becomes not if, but how much.

The other is a report on Arnold Huffman’s 2014 election finances.  Council voted to audit the ward 5 councillor in January, 2017.  The audit came back finding seven violations, and was forwarded to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).  The report is a letter from Halton Region’s Deputy Police Chief saying they had been advised the OPP had decided against laying charges.

Both have political consequences.  The budget will be the first tough decision a new council will have to make.  What do you cut? Is it programs or is it the staffing levels? Is it transit? Is it bylaw enforcement? Is it a hike in user fees, and permits?  Maybe the council compensation will have to wait? These are services that affect daily lives at the municipal level.   This report should serve as an idea for candidates of what they will have to face.

The report on Huffman’s finances has a direct impact on the election  On the surface, it’s an exoneration meaning he can run in the elections.  There’s speculation that he will run in ward 2 regionally against Rick Malboeuf.  It’s going to make for a dirty race, because Malboeuf was involved in the whole process.  There was always the question of how much of it was politically motivated vs. the search for wrongdoing.  The voters will have the final verdict.