What a difference a year makes. During the 2013 budget deliberations the SSMAR had asked for a resolution brought forward to send the budget back to staff to come back with at or below the rate of inflation, which at the time was around 1.2%. There was lively discussion and the resolution was defeated.
This year’s budget increase, thanks to staffs hard work and due diligence, was recommended at a 1.35%. This recommended increase was far lower than from previous years but much closer to the rate of inflation. Multiple factors on many fronts went into this lower 1.35% as recommended by staff.
To see council press for a 0% property tax freeze for this one year is both surprising to some and welcome by others when last years suggestion of reducing levels to at or below the rate of inflation was deemed impossible.
CAO Joe Fratesi has stated “Next year they need to make sure there’s a surplus and I don’t know if some of those features that presented themselves this year to make up that surplus are going to repeat themselves,”
“We (city staff) tried to give the very best budget we could bearing in mind that budgets are not just about one year but also about planning for future years.”
Keeping CAO Fratesi statement in mind and seeing that a 0% property tax increase has been achieved for 2014, what is the plan going forward for fiscal restraint towards discretionary spending needed within a zero tax environment?
Mayor Amaroso said she believes next year’s budget will return to the “norm” with an increase and taxpayers shouldn’t be surprised to see that happen.
Are we doing ourselves any favours by having 0% property tax increase without looking at what it will require to maintain fiscal levels for following years?
I would like to see developed a ‘live within your means policy ” as a council guideline for the next four years. My suggestion to prepare would be to further and improve the process’s of communication between the Finance Committee and the ratepayers of this community on a monthly basis.
Ideally, if we are to move beyond the current preliminary budgets input sessions we should commit to holding monthly open interactive workshop styled meetings. This would allow us to go above and beyond the current method and work towards tax reduction in the future.
Having no property tax increase is good but working within 0% property tax environment will not be easy without further due diligence and fiscal vigilance.
Candidate Ward 3
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