Agenda Notes: 2019 Milton Municipal Budget (Round 3)

2020 budget process begins with a telephone, and online survey

By: Laura Steiner

Milton’s Municipal Budget comes up for discussion for a third time in as many months  at Monday’s Council meeting.  Round 2 ended with a decision to send the budget back to staff for more consideration.  At issue is how to keep taxes to the 3% level as requested at January’s meeting.

Staff came up with a report in which they listed off a series of proposals indicating a time of low taxes might be at an end.  They affect both service delivery with a series of deferrals, service level decreases, and a potential future financial risk for the Town.  At the very top is a deferral of the Sherwood Branch Library opening to 2020, which would decrease a tax levy by $296,302, and the construction of a Ford Neighbourhood Park to 2020, saving $52,013.

A proposal to eliminate an annual transfer to the Winter Control Reserve (money kept back to help deal with a major winter snow storm) would decrease the levy by $139,517.  But it would also leave the Town in a mess if suddenly we get a major snow storm next winter.  Snow clearing is at the top of many residents’ complaints.

I know you’re thinking “more houses should equal increased revenue base, we shouldn’t need a tax increase.”  That is part of the problem.  Residential growth is increasing faster than business growth. The lack of business growth shifts a larger amount of the tax burden onto homeowners.

This year it’s a choice between keeping taxes low, and doing without a branch library, a new park or not having enough resources to deal with a snow storm.  Next year low taxes might mean putting off a road repair, or watermain upgrade.  Low taxes are good, but at what cost? Council faces difficult choices tonight.