On June 22, 2020 staff presented Council with a budget direction report with respect to next years budget. The report and recommendations are shown below. Staff asked for Council to direct the operating budget to increase by no more than 2.88% in the next two budget years.
This year has been a difficult one for everyone. The circumstances of COVID-19 has placed tremendous financial pressure on every household, business and level of government. Below is a few reasons as to why the Township budget has faced pressure.
The three main pressures stated above include but are not limited to the lowering of interest rates (our reserve funds are earning lower returns). The property tax deferral that was used to help households in need during this COVID-19 pandemics, and lastly the need to protect our staff with personal protective equipment as well as ensure that technology such as laptops are used so staff can work from home in order to follow Provincial health and safety guidelines. As the report states many areas in the GTA/York Region have expressed desires to reduce any tax levy. Some municipalities have gone to 1.5% or as low as 1%.
After hearing from countless residents and small businesses who shared their stories about how devastating the impacts of COVID-19 have been on them. I decided to strongly advocate for a 0% budget. Being part of a small family business myself, I have felt the impacts of COVID-19 and I know that any increase this year would be disrespectful to the ratepayers!
I want to thank our Mayor Steve Pellegrini for his leadership, awareness and understanding to bring forward the motion to have a near zero percent increase budget direction to be given to staff versus the 2.88% originally proposed. This again is the first step in the budget process that happens every year, after this years budget process (Jan 2020) I wanted more public involvement and more clarity for residents. Below is the timeline for those interested in participating. This is a step in the right direction to help create an atmosphere of public education and engagement. I thank staff for continuing to improve their process.
As part of adopting a near zero percent target Council also directed staff to investigate and review every municipal service delivery method/level and potential reduce some discretionary areas of tax supported municipal delivery service.
I know some residents submitted comments regarding this agenda item; mentioning re-directing or re-purposing the budgeted funds for the climate change initiatives. I want to thank those residents for sharing their opinions and ensure them that I have thoroughly read and considered the points made. The reason I supported the Mayor and rest of Council in directing staff to evaluate every part of the budget including the climate change initiatives is because I personally believe that every resident values every service differently. With the comprehensive public consultation Council will be able to see what the residents of King Township want and be able to create a budget that fits the community's needs given the desire to stay at a near zero percent budget. I do not believe it is fair to residents to say one program or another is off limits before we even get a chance to have public consultation.
As always I am here to listen so please email me or call me about any questions regarding the budget or the process. And if you would like to be put on the list for notification of the public consultation for the budget just email firstname.lastname@example.org