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Published on Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Region of Halton passes 1.9% tax increase

Halton cops receive an increase of $5.1M

Region of Halton passes 1.9% tax increase
Halton Region file photo - Graeme Frisque
Halton Regional Municipal Headquarters
By Kathryn Boyle, Independent Free Press

During the regional council meeting on Dec. 13, Halton passed a 1.9 per cent tax increase for 2018.

During the health and services committee meeting on Dec. 5, council was presented with a recommendation of $311,283,332 in total gross expenditures. During the planning and public works committee meeting on Dec. 6, council received a recommendation of $231,902,000. The following day, on Dec. 7, the administration and finance committee requested a total of $96,401,510.

A number of programs in next year's budget received increases, including:

Comprehensive Housing Strategy: $3.2 million. This increase is expected to provide an additional rent supplement to the region's housing clients.

Capacity to Prevent and Address Homelessness: $346,000.

Children's Services: $9.4 million. This increase is expected to improve the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity in licensed child care programs. Since last year, the service has been reduced by almost 10 per cent.

Greenland Securement: $800,000. This service will provide sustainable funding for the Greenlands Securement program through the Green Fund reserve.

Tax Writeoffs: $930,000. This budget will more closely reflect the seven-year average in significantly increasing trends in tax appeals.

Assessment Growth Adjustment: $2.2 million. This increase is funded by the tax stabilization reserve to address the 2017 assessment growth shortfall.

The Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) has received a $150.1 million operating budget in 2018: an increase of $5.1 million. It also received a capital budget of $7.4 million, which is $2.4 million less than last year.

On Dec. 5, commissioner of health Matt Ruf shed some light on the health and social services committee on funding for the health department, and shared with council the department will reach a shortfall of $10.2 million in 2018.

Also included in the budget is room for five new red-light cameras to be installed in the region in the coming year.

According to commissioner of finance and regional treasurer Mark Scinocca, provincial subsidies are increasing by 9.8 per cent, or $15.6 million.

On Dec. 6, commissioner of planning and public works Jim Harnum told committee the upcoming budget details for the department.

In his presentation, he explained road capital financing has increased by $1.7 million to address rising state-of-good-repair needs. Road maintenance contracts increased by $396,000, or 3.4 per cent. Hydro has increased by $131,000, where money will be allocated for traffic signals and street lighting. A $85,000 figure has been added to the budget to make way for a road operations safety technician. Lastly, waste management has increased by $490,000 to accept plastic bags and film in the blue box.

Harnum went over five key components which outlined the overall budget: water, and the completion of the long-term water meter strategy report, automated meter reading, as well as replacing 12,500 pulse meters and large meters to increase bill accuracy; wastewater, by addressing climate change and continuing the downspout disconnection program; roads, and the development of an advanced transportation management system to improve the flow of traffic on regional roads, and the LED conversion for street lights; waste management, by reviewing the new solid waste master plan and to begin accepting plastic bags and film in the Blue Box; and infrastructure, by developing and implementing an asset management plan and begin the development of an integrated water, wastewater and transportation master plan.

Next year, water utility rates will increase by 5.7 per cent, or $24 a household. Wastewater will increase by 2.2 per cent, or $11 per household. In total, water utility rates will raise by 3.8 per cent, or $35 per household.

Harnum also told committee the region had projected 35 kilometres of roads were to be resurfaced in 2017, but only five kilometres of that was completed. In 2018, the region is expecting 32 kilometres of resurfacing to be accomplished.

Overall, the region has passed a 1.9 per cent increase.

More information can be found at halton.ca
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

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