On July 10, 2019, Regional Council approved Halton’s 2020 Budget Directions Report. The Report provides guidelines to staff to maintain existing service levels for Regional programs with identified pressures, including recent Provincial funding announcements. These guidelines also aim to keep property tax increases at or below the rate of inflation (2.0 per cent).
“Approving this Report is an important step in developing the 2020 Budget and Business Plan, which will continue to fund critical programs, services and infrastructure in Halton,” said Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr. “It lays the foundation for a Budget that will maintain our strong financial position, keep property taxes low and support residents and businesses in our community—both in 2020 and beyond.”
Halton’s financial planning process ensures that the upcoming budget aligns with Council-approved strategic themes, objectives and outcomes outlined in the recent 2019–2022 Strategic Business Plan. This Plan will guide the Region’s work over the next four years, and is based on a public consultation process to ensure a focus on what matters to the community. While the Report features identified pressures, including recent Provincial funding announcements, many details of the Provincial changes remain unknown at this time.
Some of Halton’s Budget priorities for 2020 include:
- Public health: maintaining service levels following a recent decision to freeze Provincial funding for public health units.
- Paramedic services: addressing increased costs associated with inflation, rising call volumes, maintaining response times, population and other growth pressures while Provincial funding continues to be held at the 2018/19 level (which was based on 2017 costs).
- Children’s services: maintaining service levels following anticipated reductions of Provincial funding in 2020, including a new cost-sharing requirement for Child Care Expansion Plan funding, elimination of the fee stabilization funding (supports compensation, including increased vacation and sick leave entitlements for licensed child care workers) and cost-sharing for all administrative funding.
- Employment and social services: accounting for Provincial subsidies to support Ontario Works administration costs being held at the 2018 level.
- Waste management: additional funding to reflect inflationary contract increases, tonnage growth and anticipated changes to the cost of processing organic waste.
- Transportation: investment to support increased costs associated with road maintenance, the road resurfacing program, the state-of-good-repair for existing roads and expansion to accommodate growth and travel demand.
- Growth of the water and wastewater system: support for costs associated with upgrades and expansions to treatment plants, further improvements to treatment and new and expanded pumping stations.
- Long-Term Water Meter Strategy: funding for the implementation of an Advanced Meter Infrastructure system, which would upgrade residential water meters to increase operational efficiency, enhance functionality for customers and improve system performance.
- Basement flooding mitigation: continuation of the Region-wide Basement Flooding Mitigation Program to help prevent basement flooding caused by severe weather.
- Water and wastewater state-of-good-repair: continuing to invest in the state-of-good-repair program to maintain the good condition of existing infrastructure.
To achieve these targets, staff will continue to focus on core services, ongoing improvement and finding efficiencies across all program areas. Halton has a long history of addressing program pressures, reallocating resources to priority areas and maintaining service levels without impacting its annual Budget.
The 2020 Budget and Business Plan Council Meeting is scheduled for December 4, 2019, and the full Budget is scheduled to be considered for approval by Regional Council on December 11, 2019.
To read the Report or learn more about Regional financial planning, please visit halton.ca.
The Regional Municipality of Halton serves more than 580,000 residents in the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton, and the Town of Oakville. Halton Region is committed to meeting the needs of its residents through the delivery of cost-effective, quality programs and services, including water and wastewater; Regional roads and planning; paramedic services; waste management; public health; social assistance; children’s and seniors’ services; housing services; heritage programs; emergency management and economic development. For more information, call 311 or visit Halton Region’s website at halton.ca.