Taxpayers are looking at an increase of an average of $52 per household in a draft version of the city budget likely to pass next week.
Hamiltonians will face an average tax increase of 1.5 per cent if council passes the budget on Wednesday, or an overall increase of about $21.5 million. The actual city increase is 1.7 per cent, but the educational portion of the tax bill has decreased, making it a 1.4-per cent increase.
Because of area rating – now in its last year – homeowners in Glanbrook face an increase of about 4.5 per cent, and Flamborough 3.2 per cent. Some areas have an increase as low as one per cent.
The final version of the budget will be at or around 1.5 per cent overall, said Coun. Tom Jackson of Ward 6. And he thinks that’s a good deal for taxpayers.
“If we could maintain it in this range, at the end of the day, it would be reasonable and fair and overall accepted,” he said.
Coun. Judi Partridge of Ward 15 in Flamborough would like to chop the budget some more so the increase would be less than three per cent for her residents.
"But I don’t see it happening at this point," she said. "They’ve dug deep this year."
This year's budget is healthy and sustainable, and is still competitive with other municipalities, said finance head Mike Zegarac.
Assessment grew by 0.8 per cent in the past year. The city ended 2013 with a tax-supported deficit of $4 million, which councillors will consider in April when Zegarac presents options for how to eradicate it.
Some departmental increases for 2014:
- Planning and economic development: 9.3 per cent
- Public works: 4.3 per cent
- City manager’s office: 3 per cent
- Public health: 1.8 per cent
- Hamilton Police Services: 3 per cent
The general issues committee was due to pass the budget on Thursday, which would send it to council for March 26.
But councillors stopped short of passing it to give Coun. Terry Whitehead of Ward 8 the chance to find more savings. Whitehead said his staff has been studying other cities and identifying ways to save money.
Councillors decided on Thursday to increase the monthly rate at municipal parking lots by $5 per month. It’s the first such increase since 2012.
This will bring in $111,000 more for downtown parking lots, and $11,760 from lots throughout the rest of the city.