Mississauga mulls 4.9 per cent increase to city budget

Mississauga’s budget could rise by 4.9 per cent in 2020, councillors heard Wednesday during the last general committee meeting before the summer break. Residents would see a proposed 3.04 per cent property tax increase and businesses would have a 1.85 per cent tax increase as result of the proposed budget, which is set to be directed towards increasing public safety, support ongoing programs and city services, and an infrastructure levy aimed at maintaining city roads and buildings. “This is your opportunity to make mid-course corrections,” said the city’s finance director, Jeff Jackson, who made a presentation on the proposed 2020-2023 business plan and 2020 budget. “When we come back later this year, we want to do it right.” The preliminary budget for 2020 is set at $538.7 million, and is intended to keep the same quality of services available to residents while keeping property taxes competitive, which was supported by a recent study showing that Mississauga is squarely in the middle of the pack when it comes to property tax rates. Jackson also cited some of the challenges the city hs faced over the past year, citing city building pressures, aging infrastructure and construction inflation as issues that impact the revised budget, which will be showcased later this year after a round of council and public feedback. The ongoing regional review process “could impact our budget for next year, but we don’t know,” explained Jackson, who also spoke about the province’s directive over the past year to find efficiencies in city spending. “Quite frankly, the province is late to the party” when it comes to efficiencies, said Jackson. “We’ve been doing it for years.” New infrastructure funding is unlikely at the current time, Jackson said later, noting that the province “seems to be looking at swooping up transit-related funding to support various projects.” The proposed budget also includes a one per cent contribution to the Public Safety Fire Program, plus a number of new services, including 32,000 additional service hours on MiWay and new programming for the recently-constructed Churchill Meadows Community Centre While the proposed spending on the City’s priorities will likely make it into the final budget, over the next several months, staff will continue to refine the budget and look for ways to trim the proposed increases. “In 2020, we face many of the same challenges as in past years – maintaining our infrastructure and current levels of service as well as adhering to changing provincial legislation,” city manager Janice Baker said in a statement late Wednesday. “We continue to identify opportunities within the budget to further reduce the proposed tax rate. Staff consistently look for ways to streamline how we do business to keep Mississauga fiscally responsible. Our commitment is to continue to work with Council to provide value for tax dollars through cost savings and efficiencies.” A budget committee meeting is set to take place on Oct. 2, which will revolve around the proposed fees and charges. A series of public consultations and committee meetings will follow through November, with the finalized budget set to be voted on during the Dec. 6 meeting.

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Surjit Singh Flora

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