Town plans for continued inflation level tax increases
At the inaugural 2018 Budget Committee meeting on June 26, 2017, Councillor Tom Adams was appointed as Oakville’s budget chair for the tenth consecutive year. Councillor Adams holds his Master’s in Business Administration from McMaster University and is a former senior risk manager to one of Canada’s major financial institutions.
Oakville is committed to offering valued services and programs to residents and making strategic investments in community priorities. Each year the town’s budget is one of the most important tasks facing Town Council, who have directed staff to prepare a budget that keeps the overall tax increase in line with inflation. The target for 2018 has been set at an overall property tax increase of 1.8 per cent, including the town, Regional and educational shares of the property tax bill.
Key budget pressures outlined by Nancy Sully, deputy treasurer and director, Financial Planning, include $1.4 million to implement the increased minimum wage announced recently by the Province, and $1.3 million in costs related to growth in the town including the operation of new transit vehicles, the cost to maintain new parks and roads, as well as costs associated with operating the new Trafalgar Park Community Centre (redeveloped Oakville Arena) and a proposed library.
The town will be looking at transforming the way services are delivered in order to respond to budget pressures in 2019 and 2020 relating to Trafalgar Park and the opening of the Southeast Community Centre (on the former hospital lands), a new fire station in Palermo, as well as other funding needs. Council has directed staff to keep overall property tax increases in line with inflation in both 2019 and 2020.
“The town is at the point where we must move beyond simple cost containment measures to keep tax increases at the rate of inflation in future years,” said CAO Ray Green. “Council, staff and the community will need to work together to set priorities, and look for opportunities to transform the way we deliver services.”
Green recommended a comprehensive reshaping of the organization that will enable the town to meet the overall budget target set by Council and create a longer-term vision for the financial sustainability of town operations.
“Oakville is recognized as having the healthiest finances in Ontario, and keeping those finances strong and secure is a key part of Council’s vision to make Oakville the most livable town in Canada,” said Mayor Rob Burton. “Staff have made us aware of potential pressures on the horizon, and recommended we take proactive steps to address them. We are confident that taking early action will help assure the long-term health of Oakville’s finances.”
Staff noted that the 2018 budget documents would be released on November 21, 2017. Staff will present the Budget Committee with an overview of the proposed 2018 operating and capital budgets, including opportunities for potential savings or increased revenues. The Budget Committee will hear input from pubic delegations before making a recommendation on December 12, 2017 to Council. Final Council approval of the operating and capital budgets is scheduled for December 18, 2017.
“Our key focus for this budget is to meet our goal of keeping overall property tax increases in line with inflation, while building and renewing infrastructure and maintaining high quality services for the community,” Councillor Adams said. “Public input is a critical piece of our annual budget process and I look forward to engaging with residents over the next few months.”
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