A majority of Milton Council ruled on December 9, 2019, that the Town of Milton’s portion of the property tax levy will increase in 2020 by 5.6% or almost three times the rate of inflation, an improvement over the 8.30% increase approved for 2019, which was more than four times the rate of inflation that year.
When blended with the estimated 2020 budgets of the Regional Municipality of Halton and the public and Catholic school boards, the property tax levy will increase this year by an estimated 2.86% or almost 1.5 times the rate of inflation.
The average residential property in Milton is valued at $619,939, according to the most recent Milton Multiple Listing Service (MLS) figures. That equates to a roughly $121.39 annual increase in local property taxes for the average Milton homeowner, including Region and school board property tax increases.
While the 2020 Operating Budget did not fall within the 3% to 5% guidelines I successfully recommended to Council in September 2019, it was close. I put a little water in my wine and supported it, optimistic that my two-phase approach coming out of the 2019 Budget, which would get the Town of Milton to an operating budget of 3% or less in 2021 if supported by a majority of Council, will ultimately rule the day.
I had advanced a proposal that would have resulted in the 2020 Budget coming in at 5% while also protecting core services and other services of importance that were identified by individual members of Milton Council. Milton Ward 2 Regional Councillor Rick Malboeuf and Milton Ward 1 Regional Councillor Colin Best also proposed measures that would protect core services while getting the operating budget to 5%. All of our efforts were rejected by a slim majority of Council.
As I said during the 2018 election campaign, the current financial situation at the Town of Milton is not sustainable which, unfortunately, has proven to be more insightful than I originally anticipated it would be. I had hoped that the first phase of the Core Services Review, which I called for during the campaign and which was begun in early 2019 and completed in August 2019, uncovering more than $650,000 in operational savings, would be reflected in the 2020 Operating Budget. Unfortunately, those savings won’t begin to be realized until the 2021 Operating Budget. The second phase of the Core Services Review will occur in this year and I remain optimistic that any savings it also identifies can be applied to the 2021 Budget. CR