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Hamilton council approves 5.79 per cent tax increase in 2024 budget

Dena Fehir
Hamilton council approves 5.79 per cent tax increase in 2024 budget

In a 10 to six vote, ending months of debate, Hamilton City Council has approved its 2024 budget hike at 5.79 per cent.

The increase will result in about $286 more per year on a residential property assessed at $385,000 in the latest provincial valuation in 2016.

City staff outlined the financial pressures Hamilton is under and said in a report to council, “Municipalities are facing increasingly complex challenges, such as tackling homelessness and climate change without the proper financial tools to solve them.

“New financial realities like inflation, rising interest rates and rapid legislative changes impact the city’s ability to deliver services and invest in infrastructure.”

The almost six per cent surge is down from what started as a potential 7.9 per cent property tax increase on an overall $2.4 billion spending plan.

The now-approved hike means a 1.64 per cent, or $84 average per household increase related to the cost of city services, a 1.6 per cent, or average of $77 per household increase for new investments in housing and homelessness and a 2.55 per cent, or average of $125 per household increase, to account for provincial legislation.

The approximately two per cent reduction is attributed to last minute amendments such as stretching out the effect of the provincial disallowance of certain development charges over several years, rather than all at once this year, resulting in saving $6.5 million.

Another reduction of 17 full time litter collection hires to staff a new collection program can be credited to a savings of $1.6 million.

“The city’s 2024 budget maximizes investment in the core infrastructure our community relies on while at the same time providing critical supports for people in our community who need them,” stated Coun. John-Paul Danko, general issues committee budget chair.

“This is no easy task given the challenges municipalities face and the impact of downloading from other levels of government, but council worked diligently to decrease tax increases, striking a balance between investing in key areas and reducing the tax burden.”

The approved 2024 increase is on par with the 5.8 per cent hike that was approved in its inaugural budget in 2023.

2024 capital budget investments include:

  • Approximately $89 million that will in part facilitate the rehabilitation and replacement of roads, inspection and rehabilitation of bridges and other structures, and the modernization of traffic signals across the city, including an investment of $1.8 million to support the advancement of Vision Zero priorities.
  • $65 million for transit, including the construction of the Transit Maintenance and Storage Facility which saw an additional investment of $30 million as part of the 2024 budget process; the Limeridge Mall terminal replacement; and the replacement/purchase of buses (33 vehicles total) relating to transit growth and end of life replacement.
  • $15 million to help facilitate capital infrastructure for new park construction (Waterdown South Neighbourhood Park 3 – Smokey Hollow, Inch Park, Valley Community Centre Park) and park replacement (Mountain Drive Park, Carter Park Spray pad and park pathway resurfacing).
  • $32 million for the rehabilitation of the city’s corporate, community and recreational facilities (Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre Gym Expansion, police marine facility replacement and roof management at various facilities).
  • $17 million for the replacement of the city’s fleet, such as waste garbage packers. 

Also in a 10 to six vote the full $214.8-million police budget was approved, despite a motion to reject it. This is an 8.4 per cent increase of $16.6 million from last year’s $198 million.

In a news release, Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath summed up the budget approval by stating, “I’m grateful to council and staff who worked hard on this year’s difficult budget. Despite challenges related to provincial downloading, economic pressures and rising costs, council was able to lower the city’s portion of the budget to 3.24 per cent with an overall tax impact of 5.79 per cent.

“Council was willing to have tough conversations and make difficult decisions, working with staff to address affordability for Hamiltonians while ensuring we invest in critical city programs and services. The 2024 budget manages the costs downloaded by the province, delivers responsible and sustainable enhancements, and maintains service excellence.”

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