Milton Council Approves 2022 budget

Challinor, Krantz Vote Against

Milton Council passed its 2022 operating budget with a 7-2 recorded vote

By: Laura Steiner. Local Journalism Initiative
Milton Council has approved the Town’s 2022 budget.  The 7-2 decision came following three hours of discussion chaired by Ward 3 Regional Councilor Mike Cluett.
“It’s a little high for a lot of our tastes,” Cluett said of the capital and operating budgets.  The budget results in in a 5.47% increase on the Town portion of the tax bill.  For property owners this will result in an increase of $19.99/$100,000.  When blended with the Region of Halton’s projected budget it works out to a 2.93%
The Operating budget provides $164.1 for daily operations which, includes funding for new fire fighters, snow clearing, road maintenance, roads, parks, as well as the Milton Public Library.  The capital budget includes a $123.7 million investment in 127 new projects, and repairs on existing infrastructure.  Town CAO Andrew Siltala summed said the Town has attempted to find new revenue sources.  “Significant efforts have been made this past year to attract and develop non-residential businesses, creating a more balanced commercial and industrial tax base, resulting in less pressure on our residential taxpayers,” he said.
Ward 1 Regional Councilor Colin Best asked that Town Staff keep looking for savings.  “Treat it as you would your own house.  We still have inflation.  We still have supply shortages, Best said.
Inter-Regional Pilot Project Transit Approved
An Inter-Regional transit initiative was approved last night connecting Milton with the Toronto Premium Outlets.  It’s a project  advocated by Milton Chamber of Commerce CEO Scott McCammon, who presented on it arguing that it’s a necessary tool for attracting employees, and businesses.
Ward 4 Councilor Sameera Ali brought forward a motion to approve the funding seconded by Ward 1 Kristina Tesser-Derksen.  It was approved for a 12-18 month pilot project beginning in September, 2022. Initial funding would be evenly split with the Town Of Halton Hills, also going through its budget process.   McCammon has been talking to area employers who have expressed interest in potentially cost-sharing.
The motion passed with a 6-3 recorded vote.  Voting against were  Ward 2 Regional Councilor Rick Malboeuf, Municipal Councilor Ward 2 John Challinor, and Mayor Krantz.
Challinor. Mayor Krantz Vote Against Budget
Ward 2 Municipal Councilor John Challinor brought a series of motions forward.  The first two were largely symbolic asking that the Town send letters to the Ministry of Health saying that municipalities should not be funding hospitals- the Town used a 1% hospital levy,  or social services. They unanimously passed.
A third motion would reduce the number of Councilors representing the Town at different conferences including the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) also passed with a 5-4 vote.  Challinor also had a motion to reduce the Library’s budget by 1.8% or approximately $620,000.  The motion was defeated.
Challinor was one of two dissenting voices on the overall budget. “I don’t think this is a fiscally responsible budget,” he said as closing comment. He argued that his motions would have brought the budget down. Mayor Krantz was the other vote against it.  “We applaud the 2.93% (blended rate with the Region), but not the 5.47% (Town portion).  Oakville is recommending a 2.30% increase, while Burlington suggests an overall levy of 3.18%.
“We’ve been told for a long time we haven’t been raising taxes high enough,” Ward 1 Kristina Tesser-Derksen said.
In 2017 Staff predicted increases could rise as high as 6-7% per year by 2036.