Hamilton finance GM Mike Zegarac can scratch one item off his list with the approval by council of the 2023 Capital Budget. $114 million of the $286 million plan will come off the property tax bill. The rest will come from senior government transfers, reserves and other sources.
The city is trying to eat into an ever-growing infrastructure deficit by adding 1.1 percent to the tax bill specifically earmarked for bringing infrastructure into a state of good repair. The budget forecasts $29 million in borrowing costs, nearly 20 million of which will come from development charges. The city has a self-imposed debt limit of 60 percent of annual tax revenue, and at 18 percent forecast for 2023 is operating well within that limit.
The biggest items on the budget include:
- $110 million for roads, bridges sidewalks
- $32 million for transit.
- $31 million for energy, fleet and facilities
- $19 million for environmental services
- $8 million for West Harbour servicing
- $15 million for Fire services/paramedics
Water and wastewater are expensive costs but are recovered through the water bill. New capital projects usually carry with them operating impacts and the 2023 budget will add nearly $2 million in operating costs a big part of which will be the adding of 15 full time employees to the payroll.
The city has been moving towards multi-year budgeting which is an accepted management practice, but it posed some issues this year with so many new members on board. New councillors had asked in December for an extension to January in order to question staff and to familiarize themselves with the budget. A proposal by Councillor Cameron Kroetsch to defer the budget further into February was opposed by most members, and he withdrew the motion allowing the budget to pass unanimously. Concern was expressed that there will be public delegations on the budget after it was approved. There was consensus around the table that the budget process needs more work to make it more accessible to the public.
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