2014 Regional Budget – Keeping Your Taxes Low

Did you know that municipalities only receive 11 per cent of taxes collected? Your property taxes are distributed three ways – to your Local Municipality, the Provincial Government (for education) and Halton Region.

For eight years in a row, Halton Region has frozen or reduced taxes collected for Regional programs and services.  We are committed to being an effective, fiscally responsible and transparent government that delivers high quality programs and services.  View my latest video blog to learn more about Halton Region’s 2014 Budget.  Our website also includes detailed information about how your tax dollars are being spent.

 

 

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.”

Advocating for a Strong Halton

Ensuring a strong future for Halton is a priority for Regional Council.  The Provincial Places to Grow Act mandates Halton Region’s population grow to 780,000 residents by the year 2031. To facilitate this growth and maintain the high quality of life that is currently enjoyed in Halton, without burdening taxpayers with the cost of growth, there are a number of critical commitments required from the Provincial and Federal Governments. 

Advocating for a Strong Halton is a series of documents that highlight Council’s positions on a number of key challenges facing the Region.

The key challenges identified in the advocacy documents include:

tax breakdown

Municipalities only receive 11 per cent of every tax dollar paid and with this small amount we provide high quality, cost effective programs and services that touch the lives of residents every day.  Council is committed to protecting the Region’s taxpayers from the financial impacts of growth and ensuring that the quality services our residents need, are in place.

Halton enjoys a prosperous and growing business community that helps drive the Province’s economic engine and it is Council’s position that a Strong Halton will help to build a strong Ontario.

Without the necessary tools, funding and legislative commitments, we cannot accommodate the growth mandated by the Provincial Government.  Regional Council is committed to ensuring that growth pays for itself and that Halton remains a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

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.”


Canada’s Gas Tax Fund supports infrastructure improvements across Halton Region

Key initiatives of Halton Region’s Citizens’ Priorities Action Plan include managing our existing system to ensure water and wastewater infrastructure are in a state of good repair and constructing key infrastructure to meet existing and future growth demands. Our 2013 Operating Budget features an increased investment in the Region’s water and wastewater maintenance program ($3.1 million) and state-of-good-repair capital program ($8.7 million) to ensure the existing infrastructure is appropriately maintained to provide service to the residents of Halton.

Canada’s Gas Tax Fund is an important source of infrastructure funding for the Region. The Fund provides municipalities with a source of long-term, stable and flexible funding for environmentally-sustainable infrastructure such as local roads and bridges, public transit, water and wastewater, solid waste management and community energy systems. At the end of 2012, Canada’s Gas Tax Fund had provided a total of $70.9 million in funding to support 75 infrastructure projects in Halton Region.

The Fund addresses immediate local infrastructure investment needs and also allows Halton Region to plan ahead for long-term priorities. Halton Region’s gas tax allocation for 2010 to 2014 is nearly $13.5 million annually.

Canada’s Gas Tax Fund is a Government of Canada funding program that is administered in Ontario by the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO). For more information, visit www.gastaxatwork.ca.

Halton’s infrastructure needs are also driven by new growth. Regional Council believes very strongly that any new growth in Halton must pay for itself and that taxpayers should not be burdened with the cost of growth. We, with our Local Municipal partners, will continue to advocate to the Provincial and Federal government for long term financial investments and legislative tools that will enable Halton to recover infrastructure costs.

For more information on current Regional construction projects, visit www.halton.ca/construction.

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.”

2013 Budget and Business Plan (video)

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.”

Charities that own or rent property in Halton may be eligible for a tax rebate

Charities in Halton do important work to assist residents across the Region.  Halton Region is a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire because of the strong partnership between governments, business, community associations and charitable organizations.

I wanted to take this opportunity to promote Halton’s Charity Tax Rebate program  as the deadline to apply is fast-approaching.

Registered charities that own or rent commercial or industrial property in Halton Region may be eligible for the Charity Tax Rebate program.  The program, administered by the Local Municipalities, provides a tax rebate of 40 per cent of the property taxes paid by local charities.  The deadline to apply for the rebate is February 28, 2013.

To be eligible for the rebate, charities must have a valid registration number issued by the Canada Revenue Agency, must rent or own a commercial or industrial property in Halton, and be able to verify the amount of property taxes paid.  Interested charitable organizations should contact their local municipal tax office to determine eligibility.  There is no cost to apply for this rebate.

Applications must be made annually and received between January 1 of the taxation year and no later than the last day of February of the following taxation year for which the charity rebate is being requested.  For example an application for the 2012 tax year must be received between January 1, 2012 and February 28, 2013.

To apply for the Charity Tax Rebate visit www.halton.ca/propertytaxes and complete the “Registered Charity Tax Relief Application.”

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.”

Happy New Year!

Today, on this last day of 2012, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on a few of the successes we’ve had here in Halton, and what we resolve to do in 2013.

Budget

Regional Council and staff have worked very hard throughout 2012 to provide the best programs and services possible, while bearing in mind the ultimate impact on the residents and taxpayers of Halton. We are very proud of the fact that we were again able to provide a zero per cent tax increase for 2013. This brings the seven-year average tax increase to zero per cent for Regional services. This is one of the best records in all of Canada.

In 2013, we will develop Halton’s next budget with the same level of respect for the taxpayer in mind. I expect Regional Council will maintain our position to deliver a budget that delivers any tax increase at or below the rate of inflation, while maintaining service levels in a growing community and compensating for provincial funding shortfalls.

Infrastructure

Residents consistently tell us that quality infrastructure is important to quality of life. In 2012, Halton Region delivered infrastructure improvements including improving roads through widening, resurfacing or new construction on James Snow Parkway, Steeles Avenue, Dundas Street, Winston Churchill Boulevard, and Regional Road 25, and the construction of new Sixteen Mile Creek bridge on Dundas Street in Oakville. Halton also continued to strengthen our water supply system through the commissioning of a new Georgetown water tower, building a new water booster pumping station in North Oakville, completing upgrades to water purifications plants in Burlington and Oakville, and construction of new wastewater pumping stations in North Oakville and Halton Hills.

The approved 2013 capital budget for roads, water and wastewater is $921 million. In 2013, Regional Council is committed to continuing to ensure Halton has the right infrastructure in the right place at the right time.

Advocacy

Regional Council has a strong track record of advocating to other levels of government on behalf of Halton residents. In 2012, the two very important issues that come to mind are advocating to the provincial government to ensure that growth pays for itself, and advocating to protect our natural environment and farmlands from proposed provincial highways, including the GTA West corridor highway that would impact farm land in Halton Hills, and the Niagara to GTA highway that would cut through the Niagara escarpment in Burlington. In October, I joined the City of Burlington and the Stop the Escarpment Highway Coalition to host a community meeting about the proposed NGTA highway. Following the community meeting, Mayor Goldring and I also met with the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure to express the community’s opposition and concerns regarding the proposed Provincial highway.

In 2013, Council will continue to ensure the voice of Halton residents is heard by other levels of government. We will continue to work with all levels of government to ensure Halton is treated fairly. We will continue to ask for predictable, stable funding for infrastructure and housing. We will continue to advocate that growth should pay for growth, and not burden current property taxpayers. And we will continue to advocate that our natural landscapes and farmland is maintained in the face of proposed Provincial highways. We will continue to work with all our MPPs and MPs and party leaders to help them understand the issues that are important to Halton residents.

Council’s and staff’s hard work on these important matters is a big part of the reason 98 per cent of residents indicated they are satisfied with services provided by the Region, which is a significant 22 per cent higher than the average across Ontario. By continuing to focus on our Citizens’ Priorities 2011-2014 Action Plan, we will ensure that Halton remains a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire, in 2013 and beyond. Please accept my sincere wishes to you and your family, for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013!

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.”