Budget talks end with 4.4% tax increase in 2020, 3.9% four-year average
LONDON, ON -- London homeowners will dig a lot deeper to cover tax bills over the next four years, after council concluded deliberations on the 2020-23 Budget.
Multi-year budget talks lasted 49 hours over six days. In the end, Council voted 12-3 to support a budget that balanced a significant tax increase with new investments in public housing, London Transit, and the infrastructure gap.
“Certainly from my standpoint it is higher than we might have imagined,” explained Mayor Ed Holder, who campaigned on tax increases equal to inflation. But he says the investments were necessary, “Understanding what the needs of this community are, they’ve never been greater.”
TAX RATE INCREASES
Average Annual Tax Rate Increase: 3.9%
HOW WE GOT HERE:
Council began deliberations with a list of 25 Business Cases for new spending totaling $187 million, and a preliminary tax rate increase of 4.3 per cent. Budget talks saw several investments scaled back, including a capital grant for Fanshawe College’s Innovation Village ($3 million down to $2.5 million spread over 10 years).
A request to set aside another $3.64 million for the Back to the River project at the Forks of the Thames was deferred until a future budget update after the London Community Foundation sent a letter to Council explaining that discussions are underway with the new owner of the county lands at the forks, York Developments.
Budget Chair, Councillor Josh Morgan, surprised his colleagues with a $10.6 million dollar reduction in the bill for Land Ambulance service. Morgan and the city treasurer met with representatives of Middlesex County, the service provider, to better refine cost estimates over the next four years. The city’s share of ambulance costs are still slated to rise more than 12 per cent a year, which saw several councillors express frustration that they still haven’t seen data to support the bill from the county. They’ve requested a rare meeting of the City-County Liaison Committee sometime in the next two weeks.
The 3.9% average annual tax increase corresponds to a $117 increase each year on the average home valued at $242,000.
Later this month council could shift some of that tax burden off homeowners by adjusting its tax policy and tax ratios.
Council will approve finalize the 2020-23 Budget at a March 2 meeting.