2021 Budget deliberations begin amid COVID uncertainty

Hamilton  Councillors will get their first look at the 2021 budget this week. It will be the first in a long schedule of meetings that are set to run to March 31 2021 when it is expected the budget will get approval. Staff estimate the, city will need to increase the budget by $44.6 Million to meet inflationary presuures. This will work out to a 4.8 percent increase in property taxes. Average household taxes will go up $146 to $3,834. The increase will be required to maintain city services at the current level

The staff report assumes the pandemic will stretch well into 2021, noting, “the City will continue to face many financial pressures in 2021 including the loss of revenue from transit operations and recreation user fees, as well as, increased costs for Public Health and housing for the most vulnerable. The budget picture for 2021 could change for the worse if the senior government bailouts that were received this year are not available next year.

The city is in the middle of a major upgrade to the Woodward Avenue Water and Wastewater facility and it will continue to require capital funds in 2021. Water: The result will be a 4.28 percent increase in water bills. The preliminary staff report noted, “the recommended rate increase of 4.28% is largely comprised of capital financing requirements. Net capital costs are estimated at $173.5 M in 2021 versus $135.6 M in 2020. The $38.0 M increase year-over-year is broken down as $16.5 M for wastewater, $19.5 M for water and $1.9 M for stormwater infrastructure.”

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