A preliminary budget for the city of Hamilton calls for new way of budgeting through a long term financial sustainability plan. Under the proposed plan more emphasis would be placed on revenue generation in the form of investments in the local economy, that would in turn generate more non-residential taxes. Such a model would be more aligned with the way private sector companies operate where there is high emphasis on enhancing the revenue side of the ledger. According to the preliminary budget some of the key challenges the City of Hamilton will face in the next few years include:
- Additional funding for capital renewal to overcome the current annual deficit of $195 million
- Need to balance more competitive property tax rates with key investments in the community
- Provide funding and resources to address future priorities
- Ability to address increased costs related to legislative and regulatory requirements
- Manage compensation pressures
The proposed operating budget for 2015 will top $1,536,000, an increase of almost $40 Million over 2014. The impact on the average taxpayer would be 4.4% or $136 dollars a year. The preliminary budget calls for a staff increase of nearly 50 fulltime positions bringing the city staff complement up to 5,600, excluding police and library staffers. 10 staff would be hired to expedite development applications and other tax enhancing entities
One of the most serious ongoing issues facing Hamilton is an annual capital deficit of nearly $200 Million and counting. This years budget will not make a dent in the capital deficit, however, forecasting an increase of just over $3 Million. Most municipalities have similar infrastructure deficit problems and the consensus is that a long-terms solution will require cooperation between all three levels of government on a national scale. A one percent change in the average tax bill—up or down –represents about $7 Million in extra spending or savings.