Taxes on the average Hamilton home will rise $65 this year, an increase of 1.93 per cent over 2012.
Pending final approval, taxpayers with a home valued at $266,200 will pay $3,536 in taxes in 2013, up from $3,471 in 2012.
The increase is below the rate of inflation, which is 2.5 per cent, said Mike Zegarac, acting general manager of finance and corporate services. Hamilton taxpayers will pony up a combined $817,455,097 this year compared to $791,197,640 the year before.
What the proposed budget means to you
The property tax on the average home in 2012: $3,471
Property tax on the average home ($266,200) in 2013: $3,536
Change over 2012: $65 (or 1.9 per cent) for the average homeowner
Councillors wanted to get as close to zero as possible, said Coun. Chad Collins. Next year, they will likely cut deeper, which could mean job losses.
"We're still an organization that, in my opinion, has too many people working for it," he said. "If we're going to see some changes for next year, it's going to mean less people working for us."
Coun. Tom Jackson told the general issues committee Thursday that six months of work has paid off.
"I'm strongly supportive of this," he said. Residents, he added, get "overall good value for the money."
How much city services will cost taxpayers in 2013:
Planning and economic development: $22.7 million
Public health: $10.5 million
Community services: $130 million
Hamilton emergency services: $97.6 million
Public works: $190 million
City manager's office: $10 million
Corporate services: $19.9 million
Coun. Maria Pearson, who represents Ward 10 in Stoney Creek, was unhappy with the 1.9-per-cent increase.
With area rating, her constituents will end up paying more like 3.3 per cent, she said.
"I was hoping to have seen 0.9 or one per cent. In the last three years, we were able to keep it under one per cent, which made it a little more palatable."
Councillors spent Thursday trimming down final budget "enhancements." Among those approved:
- About $813,000 for improved grass mowing in public parks, rural roadsides and urban boulevards
- $127,000 for transit service to the Red Hill Business Park, required under a city agreement with Canada Bread
- $25,000 for the Gage Park Concert Series
- $50,000 for grounds maintenance at Hamilton historical sites, namely Dundurn Castle. Staff planted 160 rose bushes at the site eight years ago, but the council of the time cut the funding to maintain them. "They are very, very weedy and we get a lot of complaints about it," said Anna Bradford, director of culture.
The city will also provide about $3.2 million to the Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc. (HECFI) in 2013.
Council will ratify the budget at a meeting April 10.