Milton Council Approves Budget Call Report

By: Laura Steiner

At the July 26, 2017 Council Meeting, staff were instructed to prepare a budget using feedback gathered via telephone, and online surveys.  They were also greeted with a pair of delegations to speak to the issue.

The first speaker was Marshall Horner.  Horner used a story of a high school graduation to highlight the need for jobs for young people, saying there are “no career rewarding jobs” in town.  Derry Green Business Park is supposed to have the majority of the town’s employment growth to the year 2021.  It’s two years behind schedule on development.

Horner also spoke to facilities.  This year’s budget call report indicates an infrastructure deficit due to population growth, and the opening of three different facilities.  Horner lamented the removal of a $100,000 fund used for repairs.  “If you do not look after stuff, it breaks,” he said.  It will not be in the budget.

The other speaker was Olga Scheushwin who spoke to a potential tax increase.  The report calls for an increase between 4-7.5%.  “Regional Council can keep taxes to inflation or below.  Why can’t Milton Council do the same?” she said.

In 2016 the Town voted to combine the urban, and rural tax rate.  In response, rural rates increased by 5.73% or $12.38/ $100,000. Urban tax rate declined by .71% or $1.74/ $100,000.  “The 2016-17 tax shift  was unjust, and unfair,” she said.  In discussions following, she was challenged to find another municipality with a lower rate.

Mayor Krantz vowed he would not support a 7.5% increase.  “I want to go on record right now, there’s no way I’ll come close to supporting a 7.5% increase,” he told council.  Councillor Zeeshan Hamid appealed for a common sense approach.  “When the budget comes back, I want to see emphasis on improving services we already provide,” Hamid said.

Councillor Colin Best was chosen to chair the Budget Committee.  Meetings will take place December 4, and 5 (if necessary) 2017.   More than 1000 residents participated in Milton’s annual budget survey offered online, and by phone. When asked about balancing service levels with taxation, 53% of telephone survey respondents indicated a willingness to increase taxes to enhance or maintain current service levels.  For more information visit the Town’s website.