Politics

1.7% Increase in 2009 City Budget

By RTH Staff
Published April 02, 2009

Thanks to a last-minute infusion of social services funding from the Province, Hamilton City Council was able to sign off on a 2009 city budget with only a 1.7 percent tax rate increase.

The Province has already pledged to upload municipal social service costs, but in a process phased over a few years. The $16.5 million transfer, announced last week, helps to bridge the gap during the transition.

This week, Councillors voted to freeze non-union staff pay - including their own salaries - at 2008 levels. Also helping was the dramatic drop in fuel prices since the middle of 2008, which recently forestalled a proposed transit fare increase.

While the budget did include some modest cuts, operating efficiency gains and increased fee revenue, it also features some high-profile projects, including the York Blvd / Farmers' Market renovation, park and recreation complex development, road resurfacing and an expansion of the transit boundary.

In a press release issued last night, Mayor Fred Eisenberger stated, "this year's increase of 1.7 percent is the lowest among area municipalities. It's a very strong signal to the people of Hamilton that we are moving in the right direction as we weather the current economic reality."

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By hunter (anonymous) | Posted April 03, 2009 at 11:39:35

i take by the lack of posts here that everyone is very pleased with this result.

eisenberger made some comments to the effect that there were more efficiencies to be had but didn't want cause more layoffs in this economy. i would disagree with the mayor's position in this case. if taxes could have been reduced at the expense of a few non-essential city jobs, then i think they should have made those cuts. lower property taxes would have a much more beneficial economic effect than keeping a few on the payroll. it seems that 1.7 was much better then projected so they decided to stop there and call it a day.

in any case, the low tax increase bodes well for the time when the social services costs will be uploaded. now if the services could just be dispersed geographically...

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted April 03, 2009 at 12:50:58

I don't know where else to put this, but has anyone read the suggestion that politicians be getting severance pay? It was on thespec.com today.

Why do people assume that greater compensation will lead to a greater calibre of politicians? It doesn't seem to have worked for banking or business in general...

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By Al Rathbone (anonymous) | Posted April 05, 2009 at 02:10:12

Possibly the best news out of the budget. If the tax rate hikes stay relatively low and we get used to living on a budget, when the money starts rolling in when the economy picks back up we'll now be able to spend it on the things we haven't found room for lately, because we'll have learnt to cover the essentials on less.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 05, 2009 at 15:03:23

Not good enough. Hamilton's wealth tax (property tax) needs to be brought down to 1% and capped. Therefore, if times are good and property values rise, then government employees get more money, if property values fall, then so should their wages. By setting a goal of 1% for property taxes, everyone will understand that taxpayers come first, then the employees who work for them and not the other way around.

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By Wiccan (anonymous) | Posted April 06, 2009 at 16:22:18

I have to agree with A Smith on this one. Hamilton taxes are much higher than our neighbours and that needs to change!!

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