I am pleased to report that Regional Council approved the 2016 Budget and Business Plan on December 16. The 2016 Budget makes a number of important investments in key areas such as Paramedic Services, affordable and assisted housing, the Halton Region Community Investment Fund and state-of-good-repair for infrastructure. Additional investments are also included to support the Burlington Waterfront Master Plan, Region-wide Basement Flooding Mitigation Strategy and Paramedic Master Plan. All of these initiatives are priorities in the Halton Region Strategic Action Plan 2015-2018 approved by Council on April 1, 2015.
Each year, as we review the budget, we focus on what we need to do as a Council to ensure we maintain service levels in the community, while making strategic investments and keeping the tax rate increase for Regional services within the rate of inflation.
Our goal is to deliver a budget that will keep taxes at or below the rate of inflation at the same time as maintaining our AAA credit rating. The Region has been successful in delivering an average property tax increase of zero per cent for Regional services (excluding Police) from 2007 to 2015, while maintaining or enhancing core services.
We are committed to being a transparent, accountable and fiscally responsible government and we aim to maintain our strong financial position by ensuring value for taxpayers’ dollars. The 2016 Budget includes a 1.9 per cent increase in property taxes for Regional services and programs and a five per cent increase in the water and wastewater rate. Of the five per cent increase, 1.6 per cent will fund operating costs of water and wastewater systems to keep Halton’s drinking water safe; 1.1 per cent is allocated for investment in the Basement Flooding Mitigation Program; and 2.3 per cent will be invested in treatment plants and pipeline systems.
Highlights in the 2016 Budget include:
- Investment to begin development of a new world class, signature waterfront park in Burlington;
- Support for various strategic investments in Paramedic Services;
- Increased funding for new assisted housing opportunities;
- Increased support to maintain water and wastewater infrastructure in a state-of-good-repair;
- Funding for a new Older Adult Tax Deferral Program;
- Investment in the Region-wide Basement Flooding and Mitigation program to help homeowners protect their property from flooding;
- Increased funding for non-profit organizations in Halton through the Halton Region Community Investment Fund; and
- Support for an Internship and Apprenticeship Program at Halton Region.
Our sound budgetary practices ensure we maintain a strong financial position for the Region which contributes to the high quality of life we enjoy in Halton. For several years, we have heard from residents how much they enjoy living in Halton, with 99 per cent rating the overall quality of life as high and 98 per cent rating their satisfaction with Regional services as high. The implementation of our Strategic Action Plan which is supported by our annual budget contributes to making Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.
To view the budget online, visit halton.ca/budget.
As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.