After two and a half months, the city of London has their first multi year operating budget. This comes with a tax increase of two-point-eight percent, or about 76 dollars a year for the average home owner over the next four years. Mayor Matt Brown knows that any increase will be difficult for homeowners, and that’s why city council took so long with deliberations.
“We’re looking at an increase that is sustainable for our community. We’re also looking at an increase that is responsible – that takes into account all of the costs short, medium, and long term. What we didn’t do here was make short term decisions that might raid the reserves, for example, or keep taxes low over a short period of time and then create a budget bomb in future years.”
Brown also feels that he kept his campaign promises with regards to tax increases because he aimed to keep them at or around inflation, or between two and three percent. He also indicated from the beginning that he would not support an arbitrary number which would push expenses into the future, adding that many of the problems faced during this budget process were due to such figures.
As this was London’s first multi year budget process, and the city is one of the first communities in Canada to go through it, it was a learning process. Mayor Brown said the main lesson for council was that they had to take their time.
“We need to make sure that we understand the decisions very carefully because these have multi year ramifications, and that’s why in many cases we went through this budget line by line.”
An extra day (Saturday, March 5th) was also added to the schedule so councillors had more time to go through it.