On July 15, 2020, Regional Council approved Halton’s 2021 Budget Directions Report. The Report provides guidelines to staff to maintain existing service levels for Regional programs with identified pressures, including COVID-19. These guidelines also aim to keep property tax increases at or below the rate of inflation (2.0 per cent).
“The 2021 Budget Directions Report is an important step in our budget development process as it lays the foundation for our next Budget and Business Plan,” said Regional Chair Gary Carr. “Throughout COVID-19, there has been a number of uncertainties, but this Report provides guidelines that help us maintain our strong financial position, keep property taxes low and continue to support residents and businesses in our community as we recover from the pandemic.”
This Report guides the Region’s investments in 2021 to ensure resident access to essential services and supports critical program enhancements and financing plans to address community growth. It also ensures that Halton’s upcoming Budget will align with strategic themes, objectives and outcomes outlined in the 2019–2022 Strategic Business Plan. Financial pressures related to the COVID-19 pandemic are also identified in the Report. Regional staff continue to closely monitor these pressures in coordination with the Region’s projected recovery plan, to identify any anticipated impacts that may extend to 2021. This will continue the Region’s history of addressing program pressures, reallocating resources to priority areas and maintaining service levels while maintaining tax rate increases at or below the rate of inflation.
Some of Halton’s budget priorities for 2021 include:
- Public Health: maintaining service levels while continuing to respond to COVID-19.
- Paramedic Services: addressing increased costs associated with inflation, rising call volumes, maintaining response times, population and other growth pressures.
- Children’s Services: maintaining service levels following reductions in Provincial funding and uncertainty around funding levels for 2021.
- Indigenous initiative, inclusion and diversity: creating an initiative with an Indigenous consultant that will support a comprehensive response to the Federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action and the report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
- Climate change emergency: continuing to make corporate operations as carbon neutral as possible, using land use and transportation planning to design climate friendly communities, designing and building climate resilient infrastructure, and planning to respond to weather related events and other emergencies.
- Community safety and well-being: continuing to deliver the objectives of the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan (CSWB) in collaboration with community partners on a wide range of issues to support residents who are vulnerable to negative social, economic or health outcomes.
- Waste Management: continued planning and implementation for the short-term options recommended in the Solid Waste Management Strategy, and planning for the transition of the Blue Box program to full Producer responsibility with integration into the medium and long-term strategy options of the recommended final Solid Waste Management Strategy.
- Transportation: investment to support increased costs associated with road maintenance, the road resurfacing program, and in the state-of-good-repair for existing roads and expansion to accommodate growth.
- Growth of the water and wastewater system: support for costs associated with upgrades and treatment plant expansions, further improvements to levels of treatment and new and expanded pumping stations.
- 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 condition of assets as infrastructure ages and expands due to growth.
Staff will continue to focus on core services, ongoing improvement and finding efficiencies across all program areas to achieve these targets. The 2021 Council Budget Meeting is scheduled for December 9, 2020, and the 2021 Budget and Business Plan is scheduled to be considered for approval by Regional Council on December 16, 2020.
To read the Report or learn more about Regional financial planning, please visit halton.ca.
The Regional Municipality of Halton serves 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.