Hamilton’s GIC has passed the city’s 2021 operating budget subject to ratification at the end of the month. At the end of the day the city’s spending will be up by 2.6 percent but with some offsetting credits the impact on the average householder will be a 2.1 tax hike. The average household is looking at a $4,600 tax bill. COVID financing from senior governments has left the city with $111 million in unspent funds by the end of last year but $70 Million of that will expire in March, so staff are hoping there can be some negotiation to allow the funds to be applies to COVID losses in 2021.
At $955 Million the city’s operating budget is creeping towards the Billion dollars mark. Its actually past that now with capital expenditures included. Staff say, right now without any trimming, the city is looking at a 10 percent budget increase will be needed in 2022. But that number will decrease as council and staff sharpens their pencils. This year’s budged increase started out at more than a 4 percent increase.
As he signalled, Clr. Lloyd Ferguson voted against the budget. He was opposed to increases in the EMS budget which he said were not necessary as council had substantially increased the EMS budget in previous year to eliminate ode Zero days when no ambulances were available. He also objected to the Hamilton Police Service coming in with a budget that was above the 2 percent limit that has been set for boards and agencies.