Like most Canadian Municipalities, the City of Burlington has been hit hard financially because of the COVID19 pandemic; still the city fares better on a per carta basis than Hamilton, for instance. A staff report says Burlington is projected to lose about $18 Million by year’s end. Most of that is revenue lost plus about one million dollars in extra costs related to COVID.
By cancelling or deferring various spending projects the city was able to claw back about $9.5 Billion and the senior governments came through with $6.1 Million in COVID relief funding. That leaves a shortfall of almost $3 Million. Staff are recommending that the shortfall be covered by diverting funds from an annual special tax levy designed for capital renewal.
With regard to the 2021 budget staff say that if it’s Council’s goal to get to a 2% blended tax rate for 2021, the City is would have to cut approximately $3.4M from the budget. From staff’s preliminary work with 2021 budget, currently, staff is looking at a 2.9% blended rate for Burlington when combines with the Halton Region levy and the education portion of the tax bill.
Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said “I’m not interested in service level reductions to reduce budget impacts. We’ve seen through COVID-19 that we’ve had to increase service standards to meet the challenges we’re experiencing. We need service enhancements and that needs to be our focus.”
Burlington’s budget calendar calls for the Capital budget to be finalized by the end of January, and the operating budget to be approved a month later.