City taxes up 4.62% as Burlington councillors approve 2022 operating budget

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Published December 14, 2021 at 4:03 pm

Burlington residents will see the city portion of their taxes rise by 4.62 per cent after councillors finally approved the 2022 budget.

When blended with expected Halton Region and education tax increases, the overall increase for Burlington taxpayers will be 2.87 per cent.

On more than one occasion during the city’s regular council meeting it looked like the budget would fail to gain a majority. At one point, city clerk Kevin Arjoon was asked for his opinion on what would happen if the budget was not accepted.

Instead, six of the seven members voted in favour of the operating budget with only Ward 6’s Angelo Bentivegna casting a thumbs-down, believing the tax increase was too high.

The most surprising vote was by Ward 5’s Paul Sharman. Early in the meeting, he made a long speech about not voting in favour of the budget, giving a laundry list of items he thought shouldn’t have been included and that the budget was artificially low.

In the end, he changed his mind when a $300,000 item was removed from the $191M operating budget, slightly boosting the final tax increase.

Even some of those who voted in favour – Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, Ward 1’s Kelvin Galbraith, Ward 2’s Lisa Kearns, Ward 3’s Rory Nisan and Ward 4’s Shawna Stolte – expressed reservations about the final deal.

Nisan reiterated his comment from committee when he said a good compromise leaves everyone a little unhappy.

The main fear of those who thought the tax increase was too low is that there is risk in building expected revenues into the budget. Any misses could mean a deficit at the end of the year.

The final rate of 4.62 per cent is basically at the rate of inflation, which currently sits at 4.67 per cent.

At some point, it was pointed out, the items that are being pushed off are going to have to be dealt with.

In the end, councillors left those looming difficult decisions to the next term.

“We can’t solve everything in one year,” said Meed Ward. “This will take 5 years. We’re not kicking can down road. we’re being realistic.”

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