By: Laura Steiner
The story on Milton’s 2019 Municipal Budget continues this Monday night, a little over a month after it was first discussed. Councillors heard from delegates at their December 10, 2018 meeting.
Monday night’s meeting will be for the tough decisions. The first of these has to do with the taxes. Staff has asked for an increase of $24.00/ $100,000. That’s about $7 lower than the budget call report of $31.05/ $100,000 assessment. Getting it lower may not be feasible because of growth. Milton is growing faster residentially (building more homes) than non-residential (business). It shifts a higher tax burden onto home owners.
But this doesn’t stop Council from trying, which brings us to the next series of decisions based around the question of: Where to cut or increase? The Town’s finance department came up with a series of “decision packages” divided into three categories.
Section A contains staff approved options to reduce the tax impact containing options such increasing recreation fees, decreasing transit by cancelling evening services, and reducing passive weed control. Other items listed here include weed control, and the elimination of financial support and transit service for Canada Day as the committee is disbanding as of 2020. The Community Fund is targeted to be cut by 50% or $125,000.
Section B contains more options to further reduce impact. The catch is, recommendations contained here may affect the service levels. Highlights include a potential transfer of responsibility of the Downtown Milton Street Festival from the Town to the Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA), transit cuts, the closure of Rotary Park Pool, a reduction in hours at the Beaty Branch, and the elimination of the Community Fund.
Section C, contains requests from Council to Town Staff. Recommendations here include additional infrastructure funding which could see an increase of .36 cents/ $100,000, and a potential of an Admin assistant for council. Discussions included the possibility of technology budget as well.
It’s almost a question of what kind of Milton does Council want? The one with nice things like a community fund, a street festival, and proper transit because they’ve found a delicate balance between tax levels, and service levels. Or the kind of place where taxes are kept low, no matter what the cost.