Maintaining a strong financial position for a bright future

I am proud to share that once again, S&P Global Ratings affirmed its highest credit rating for Halton Region! The AAA rating came with high praise for our financial management practices, and the agency’s research update described a stable outlook for our future.

MidHalton ConstructionOur top credit rating allows Halton and its Local Municipalities to finance major projects at the lowest possible long-term costs by providing continued access to the best capital financing rates available. This means it helps us keep taxes low and maximize investments in Halton’s future while minimizing the cost for taxpayers.

Halton’s credit rating is assessed by two international agencies, each issuing opinions annually: Moody’s Investors Service, whose highest rating is “Aaa”, and S&P Global Ratings, whose highest rating is “AAA”. Consistently earning the highest ratings from both agencies places us at the top end of Canadian municipalities, and has become increasingly rare for jurisdictions around the world.

The agencies assign their ratings based on financial performance, exposure to risks, and quality of financial planning and reporting. For Halton, S&P Global Ratings’ decision was based on:

  • our strong, diverse and growing economy with excellent access to GTA markets;
  • our strong financial management practices, prudent policies, robust budgets and transparent annual reports;
  • our strong, stable budget performance and low debt; and
  • our exceptional access to liquid funds from internal and external sources.

Our top credit rating is the foundation of our strong financial position, which is supported by an ongoing three-part cycle that includes planning and reporting as well as performance. At the July 12 meeting of Regional Council, we approved the 2018 Budget Directions Report, which will help ensure next year’s budget keeps tax increases at or below the rate of inflation while preserving our top credit rating. Meanwhile, the upcoming 2016 Annual Financial Report will provide an in-depth analysis of Halton’s finances and help inform the next credit opinion from Moody’s Investors Service in January. Each part of this process is connected to ensure transparency and accountability for residents.

We are proud to have achieved a top credit rating for 29 years, and this distinction is the direct result of our diligent planning and transparent reporting. By maintaining a top credit rating and strong long-term financial position, we can continue to make investments that help keep Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

I encourage you to learn more about fiscal responsibility at Halton—to view our award-winning financial plans, policies and reports that demonstrate how we succeed by putting residents first, visit halton.ca/finances.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.

How our top credit rating helps keep Halton a great place to live

I am pleased to let you know that for a 29th consecutive year, Moody’s Investors Service has awarded its highest credit rating to Halton Region! This distinction ranks Halton at the top end of Canadian municipalities, indicating an expectation of consistent and positive financial outcomes for the years ahead.

The Aaa rating is the result of an extensive and objective third-party analysis of our financial reports, plans and practices. The Region’s Aaa credit rating allows Halton and its local municipalities to finance major investments at the lowest possible long-term costs by providing continued access to the best capital financing rates available. It ensures we can continue to maximize the community impact of every dollar we invest in the future and is essential to maintaining Halton’s strong long-term financial position.

Halton Region is a transparent, accountable and fiscally responsible government that ensures value for taxpayer dollars. Moody’s report profiles this commitment through its wealth of high praise for the Region, affirming that our fiscal policies continue to support a thriving community.

The report reads:

“Halton’s operating results are supported by strong governance and prudent fiscal policy. The Region has forward-looking operating and capital plans that allow it to address pressures and spending requirements early on. […] Management also adheres to conservative debt and investment management policies, which limit the Regional Municipality’s exposure to market-related risks and helps ensure relatively smooth debt servicing costs. These fiscal management measures are also supported by comprehensive, transparent and timely financial reporting.”  

These strengths are the foundation of our strong long-term financial position, which allows us to deliver high quality programs and services while keeping taxes low. Moody’s analysis confirms that Regional Council and staff continue to succeed by putting residents first, and I am proud that Halton Region has earned this recognition once again.

By maintaining a strong financial position, we help keep Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire. To learn more about the Region’s finances, 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 gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.

Bright future: Halton receives another Aaa credit rating and top ranking for municipalities!

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I’m excited to share with you that we have made another exceptional achievement as a responsible government. Moody’s Investors Service has reaffirmed Halton’s Aaa credit rating for the 26th consecutive year, ranking Halton at the high end of Canadian municipalities. In its rating analysis, Moody’s credits this remarkable record to our “prudent fiscal management practices and commitment to long-term planning”, which have resulted in strong operating budgetary results and a moderate debt burden.

The report states:

“Halton displays strong governance and management characteristics. The Region has forward looking operating and capital plans to address pressures and spending requirements early on. In addition, management adheres to conservative debt and investment management policies which limit the Regional Municipality’s exposure to market related risks and helps ensure relatively smooth debt servicing costs. These fiscal management measures are also supported by comprehensive, transparent and timely financial reporting.”

Moody’s high praise illustrates Halton’s ongoing commitment to being a transparent, accountable and fiscally responsible government. Maintaining our Aaa credit rating is a vital part of this promise to residents, because it gives the Region, as well as its Local Municipalities, access to the best possible financing rates for infrastructure projects and other large initiatives. These savings minimize the long-term cost to taxpayers while maximizing the community impact of every dollar spent.

The plans and policies praised in Moody’s report represent one of Council’s most important priorities: ensuring value for taxpayers. Their confidence in us confirms that Regional Council and staff continue to move in the right direction by putting residents first. The Aaa rating, as well as the strategies that helped us achieve it, are critical to maintaining Halton’s strong long-term financial position, which will allow us to deliver high-quality programs, services and infrastructure for years to come.

By maintaining our strong financial foundation and perfect credit rating, we can continue to invest in a bright future, keeping Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

To learn more, 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 gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.

Halton is a great place to live

Halton is a great place to live and Regional Council is committed to making fiscally, responsible decisions that ensure we provide high quality services that contribute to your quality of life, making it an ideal place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

Last December, Regional Council approved the 2014 Budget and Business Plan and for the fourth time in eight years (2008, 2010, 2011 and 2014), we were able to reduce property taxes on Regional programs and services while maintaining and enhancing service levels. Over the past eight years, we have either reduced or frozen taxes. This is one of the best records in all of Canada. Once again this year, we have achieved a AAA credit rating.  This is the highest credit rating that can be achieved and it is acknowledgment of Halton’s strong financial position. Our AAA credit rating and reduced taxes demonstrates that we have been managing your tax dollars efficiently and effectively. 

Regional Council is committed to policies that ensure Halton is resident focused, well planned and safe and healthy. Value to you as a taxpayer is a critical component of decision making at Council.  We are fiscally responsible with the Regional budget and have been planning our infrastructure needs (roads, waste management, water/wastewater treatment) so that strategic investments now ensure we meet infrastructure needs in the future with minimal impact to you as a taxpayer. We are also focused on services that contribute to a safe and healthy community so that you can continue to enjoy a high quality of life in Halton.

As a regional government, we continue to build on our record of customer service excellence. In January, our Access Halton group was recognized by the Service Quality Measurement Group (SQM) as a Service Quality Award of Excellence Winner for 2013. Halton received a Highest Customer Service (government) award and survey results indicated 92 per cent of callers were satisfied overall with their call centre experience. These results are a great achievement given that in 2013, Access Halton managed 304,354 calls and 9,282 emails.

Great things are happening in Halton. To learn more, I invite you to take a look at my video blog, The State of the Region, at www.youtube.com/haltonchair.

If you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton,LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Managing Your Tax Dollars Effectively and Efficiently

Halton Region has frozen or reduced property taxes on Regional programs and services for eight straight years.  This is one of the best records in all of Canada.  In 2013, for the 23rd year in a row, Halton Region achieved a AAA credit rating from Standard and Poor’s.  By maintaining our AAA credit rating and reducing our taxes we ensure Halton is competitive which attracts jobs and investment to our community. Our AAA rating and tax reduction attracts companies like Target, Siemens, Toronto Premium Outlets and Gypsum Technologies Inc. making Halton a hotspot for business. 

Halton Region has one of the best records in Canada for keeping taxes low while maintaining and enhancing service levels. Our AAA credit rating and reduced taxes demonstrates that we have been managing your tax dollars efficiently and effectively.  Join me on a walk through downtown Burlington as I reflect on Regional Council’s commitment to fiscal responsibility.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Halton’s 4th annual Real Estate Forum reinforces that Halton is an economic hotspot

Last year, 2012, was a record setting year for industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) development in Halton, with ICI development surpassing over $1.2 billion in building permit value. 

On Tuesday, October 29, I joined industrial and commercial developers and real estate brokers from the Greater Toronto Area, along with my colleagues from Regional Council and Halton’s Local Municipalities at the Halton Real Estate Forum, held in Burlington.

The event was a terrific opportunity for businesses to network.  Attendees also had the chance to learn about economic and real estate performance, trends, development cost competitiveness in Halton and the surrounding area, and hear from business panelists their reasons for choosing Halton.

Halton has been named the safest regional municipality in Canada for the past five years. We have an AAA credit rating, location and quality of life that is second to none, and incredible talent living within our borders. Judging by our growing ICI development numbers and recent investments by companies such as Target, Siemens, Toronto Premium Outlets and Gypsum Technologies Inc., it is clear that Halton continues to be an economic hotspot.

A key message voiced by the speakers at the Forum was that with our ecosystem of leading companies and exceptional quality of life, Halton is indeed a location of choice – one of the best communities in which to live and work.

Halton’s Director, Economic Development, John Davidson provided an overview of trends in the commercial and industrial real estate market in Halton.  His presentation included a short video testimonial from Sanjay Singhal, Co-founder & CEO of Audiobooks.com.

All of the speakers alluded to Halton’s attractive business environment, access to skilled workers, customers and suppliers, the entrepreneurial eco-system, excellent infrastructure, location, facilities for innovation and startups, such as HalTech, and proximity to post secondary institutions.

You can review the presentations, including mine and the address by keynote speaker Josh Kaufman, Vice President, Retail and Commercial Development, Dundee Realty Corporation, at www.halton.ca/ref2013.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Halton’s Quarterly Accomplishments (Q1, 2013)

Fiscal Responsibility

AAA credit rating – Halton’s AAA Credit Rating was reaffirmed by Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s. The AAA Credit Rating is an achievement that is widely recognized in the investment industry and an acknowledgement of Halton’s strong financial position.

Attracting and Retaining Jobs

Celebrating women in business – On March 6, in celebration of International Women’s Day (March 8), Halton Region’s Small Business Centre, in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment, hosted a business event for Women Entrepreneurs to “learn, connect and grow!”

Lowe’s Distribution Centre – On March 11, Halton Region joined the Town of Milton at a board cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Lowe’s Canada Distribution Centre at 3333 James Snow Parkway (West of Hwy. 25) in Milton.

Economic Development Strategy report – Halton Region’s Economic Development Strategy is on track, with all 50 actions scheduled for 2012 complete, according to a report presented to Regional Council on March 27. This is the first report marking the progress of the Region’s 10-year Economic Development Strategic Implementation Plan, which was approved by Council in 2011.

Promoting Tourism

Cycling event announced – Three-time Olympic cycling medalist Curt Harnett was at the HaltonRegionMuseum on January 22 to help announce the PwC Epic Tour Halton, a GranFondo-style mass participation cycling event featuring some of the most spectacular cycling terrain in the Greater Toronto Area. The first annual event is scheduled for September 8, 2013, coinciding with the Museum’s 3rd annual Alexander Family Farm Day.

Museum performances – On Monday, February 11 the Halton Museum Foundation presented two performances of “The Spirit of Harriet Tubman” at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. The performances celebrate the life and work of the famous Underground Railroad conductor.

Public Engagement

2012 Report to the Citizens – Halton Region issued the second annual Report to the Citizens about progress on the Citizens’ Priorities Action Plan.  Key accomplishments highlighted in the 2012 Report to the Citizens illustrate how Halton Region continues to deliver value to taxpayers.

Partnerships

Non-profit networking – Over 90 people from various sectors participated in the first session of the Let’s Talk…Let’s Connect networking series with the non-profit sector on February 13. The session focused on creating opportunities for conversation, networking and learning to strengthen relationships and build capacity within the non-profit sector.

Be an Employer of Choice

Recruitment video – Human Resources launched a recruitment video to help job seekers see the advantages of working for Halton Region.  The video is posted on Halton’s website and on YouTube.

Transportation

EA completed – To help make sure road infrastructure is ready in 2015 for the opening of the new Oakville hospital, Halton completed the Class Environmental Assessment Study for widening Dundas Street to six lanes that will include curb High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes. The expanded Regional Road will include enhancements that will create an attractive space for pedestrians and cyclists in order to encourage and facilitate active transportation.

Infrastructure

Watermain Replacement – Sections of the watermain on Martha Street and Lakeshore Road in downtown Burlington were replaced as part of the Region’s infrastructure maintenance and improvement program. Final restoration of the work area will take place this spring.

New Watermain installed along Louis St. Laurent – Construction of a new transmission watermain along Louis St. Laurent Avenue, between Fourth Line and Regional Road 25 in the Town of Milton, was completed and commissioned. The new watermain will deliver water to new and established neighbourhoods in the area.

Zone 5 Pump Station at Fourth Line in Milton – In January, construction was completed on a new water booster station on Fourth Line south of Louis St. Laurent Avenue. The new pumping station will help deliver clean, safe drinking water to residents of Milton.

New infrastructure to support commercial development – New water and wastewater mains were installed along Steeles Avenue, between Trafalgar Road and Eighth Line North. The new Halton Hills Wastewater Pumping Station #3, located east of Eighth Line North, is also now in service.

Environmental Protection and Conservation of Water

Public Works recognized by the Consulting Engineers of Ontario – The recently completed Inlet Works project at the Acton Wastewater Treatment Plant was the recipient of an “Award of Excellence” from the Consulting Engineers of Ontario. This award was presented on April 20 at the Ontario Science Centre.

Lake Erie Proposed Source Protection Plan – To help protect the sources of Halton’s municipal drinking water systems, Halton Region’s Water Services, together with the Local Municipalities, reviewed and provided comments on the Lake Erie Proposed Source Protection Plan. The Plan is a component of The Clean Water Act, passed by the Province of Ontario.

Annual reports for municipal drinking-water systems – Halton Region Water Services completed annual reports for each of Halton’s five municipal drinking-water systems. The reports, legislated by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, demonstrate the Region’s continuous commitment to providing safe drinking water.

Waste Management

Online waste collection toolIn February, Halton Region launched the new online Waste Collection Calendar Tool at www.halton.ca/wastecalendar. The new tool allows residents to easily and quickly search for the dates and materials of their next waste collection by inputting their address. Users can also sign up to receive email, phone or Twitter waste collection reminders, or add a waste collection schedule to their personal iCal, Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook calendar.

Service request tool for garbage tags – Halton Region launched an online service request tool to help resident order garbage tags from Halton’s website. A total of 3,102 online orders placed through www.halton.ca/GarbageTags were successfully fulfilled in March 2013.

Blue box pick-up events – In March, Waste Management Services held eight Blue Box Pick-up events for residents.  At the events, new larger (22 gallon) Blue Boxes were available to residents to help them manage new recycling materials (www.halton.ca/NewInBlue) accepted in Halton’s Blue Box program as of April 1. Blue Boxes were also available at Halton Regional Centre, Robert C. Austin Operations Centre, and the Halton Waste Management. A total of 50,000 Blue Boxes were handed out in March.

Corporate Sustainability

Earth Hour – Halton Region turned participated in Earth Hour on March 23 by turning off the lights and all non-essential electrical equipment in support of this global initiative to raise awareness about the importance of taking action to fight climate change.

Children and Youth Development

Online prenatal program – The Health Department’s new online prenatal program—The Gift of Motherhood—was evaluated earlier this year. The evaluation showed a significant reduction of the waitlist for face-to-face classes and that 600 additional families have now been able to receive prenatal education. The online prenatal program continues to be offered free of charge to Halton residents.

Seniors

Accreditation with Exemplary Standing – Halton Region’s Service for Seniors Division and the North Halton Mental Health Clinic achieved Accreditation with Exemplary Standing as the final result for the 2012 Accreditation Canada on site survey. Exemplary Standing is the highest level of performance that a Canadian healthcare provider can receive, indicating that the services provided have met and exceeded national standards.

Assessment Entry Module – On March 18, Halton launched our new Assessment Entry Module software in our Community Programs. This new software allows assessment information to move with a client from one health service provider to another to improve quality of care.

Protecting Public Health

Food handler training – On January 1 the first phase of Halton’s Mandatory Food Handler Training Bylaw came into effect. It requires all high-risk food premises to have a certified food handler on site while the kitchen is operating.  To support owners and operators in Halton, the Health Department offers several options to complete the food handler certification training including online study guides, a full day course and on-site training.

Income and Health Inequalities report – On January 29 the Health Department released the Income and Health Inequalities in Halton Region (pdf) that examined 23 health indicators to determine how much income effects health for Halton residents.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”