Londoners got their first glimpse at the 2016-2019 multi year budget on Monday.
The starting point for the budget document as proposed to City Council calls for an average annual increase of 2.6%.
“While the City has presented multi-year forecasts in the past, this is the first time council will be approving budgets for the next four years,” said Martin Heyward, Managing Director, Corporate Services and City Treasurer.
A 2.6 % increase works out to an annual average hike of $71 based on the average home price of $221,000.
In 2014, Mayor Matt Brown campaigned on a promise of keeping the tax increase in line with inflation.
When asked about the proposed hike, Brown indicated the City works off the construction price index.
“Over the past five years, that increase has been around 2%. Over the past 10 years, (the increase has been) around 3%,” said Brown. “I think that’s a range that we can focus on and we want to look to keep that number as low as possible.”
City Council must decide which new or expanded initiatives from their Strategic Plan, passed last March, will be funded. Officials say this could result in an additional increase of 0.5% which would bump the tax hike up $85 for the average London homeowner.
Councillor Phil Squire says council will determine which of these projects make sense.
“I like the process because I think Londoners are going to know at the end of this process exactly what we decided to spend their money on,” said Squire.
Civic administration also presented the 2016-2019 water and waste water treatment budgets on Monday. City Council approved the water and waste-water rates and charges on Dec. 8, 2015 in keeping with the utilities’ long-term plans. The 3 % increase effective Jan. 1st, 2016, translates into an approximate $24 increase for the average residential ratepayer.
The budget will be finalized in early March.