Burlington city council approves 2021 operating budget

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Published March 4, 2021 at 3:27 pm

Burlington City Council recently approved the city’s 2021 operating budget.

The overall tax increase is 2.50 per cent or $18.99 per $100,000 of a home’s current value assessment, combined with a budget increase from Halton Region as well as no change to education taxes.

The city’s total budget increase is 4.14 per cent.

The budget for 2021 will focus on sustaining city services such as additional resources to support ongoing and growing workloads in forestry and road maintenance, additional funding for on-going recreation facility maintenance and the conversion of part-time staffing to full-time and additional resource to support and enhance community engagement.

In terms of managing community growth, it will include funding to carry out the comprehensive review of the zoning bylaw, funding to complete area-specific planning for the Major Transit Station Areas (MTSA) around the three GO stations in Burlington and additional resources to enhance the delivery of development review and building services.

Additionally, services will be enhanced such as a continuation of the free transit service for seniors pilot program, Monday to Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and a continuation of the plumbing grant program that provides financial assistance for basement flood prevention work.

Modifications to services to address COVID-19, include the introduction of new parking measures at Beachway Park and Lowville Park and additional by law enforcement officers, funded by Halton Region, to assist with the enforcement of COVID-19 public health measures.

Due to the financial impacts on the City as a result of COVID-19, a decrease in revenues is anticipated from recreation programs, facility rentals, transit fares and modifications to the operation of services. This is to protect the health and safety of residents to result in a projected 2021 revenue impact of $12.3 million.

Additionally, a total of $5.7 million in one-time mitigation measures has been incorporated into the 2021 operating budget. This includes a redirection of the 1.25% Infrastructure Renewal Levy ($2.18 million) and $6,617,577 in funding from the provincial/federal Safe Restart Agreement which will be used towards 2021 financial COVID-19 impacts.

On March 3, 2021, at a special meeting of Council, a 2021 COVID-19 Property Tax Deferral Payment Plan program was approved by City Council. This will provide relief to residents and businesses that continue to struggle as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This will enable eligible property owners unable to pay property taxes by the tax due dates, to defer taxed under a pre-authorized payment plan.

Equal monthly withdrawals will be made that will allow for the property taxes to be paid in full by Dec. 1, 2021, if eligible. Applicants will be required to explain the financial hardships they are experiencing and must be directly related to COVID-19. This includes loss of employment, business closure or prolonged suspension of pay.

“This budget is a true collective effort of Council and staff in service of our community and delivers on front line services our residents count on. We have focused on mitigating risk, including COVID-19,” said Mayor Marianne Meed Ward.

“We’ve added services in areas where demand has increased: planning and development, tree maintenance, community engagement, snow clearing, and extending free transit for seniors, to name a few. We did that while also finding $1.5 million in savings, in the toughest budget year we’ve ever seen. I hope residents will see value in the resources they entrust to us with this budget. I certainly do.”

For more information on eligibility and to apply for the for the 2021 COVID-19 Property Tax Deferral Payment Plan program, click here.

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