LONDON, ONT -- Londoners will have to dig a lot deeper to cover property tax bills over the next four years, as numerous budget pressures have come to light in newly released budget documents.

City hall’s draft multi-year budget for 2020 to 2023 has been presented to city council at a special committee meeting.

Proposing about a billion dollars in annual spending, council now faces a difficult budget bind.

There are 25 Business Cases for additional spending tied to priorities like public housing, green bins and improved snow clearing.

Base budget spending, essentially to keep municipal services at existing levels, results in an average annual tax increase of 3.2 per cent over the four-year budget.

But additional spending contained in the Business Cases could drive the average annual tax increase as high as 4.5 per cent.

Expect the average annual increase to end up somewhere between those amounts.

In real dollars, an average home assessed at $241,000 could pay:

  • No additional Business Cases 3.2 per cent = +$94/year
  • + Staff recommended Business cases 3.8 per cent = +$113/year All Business Cases
  • + 4.5 per cent = +$135/year

The 25 Business Cases include a total gross investment of $183 million, which could add up to 1.3 per cent to tax bills each year.

City staff have prioritized 16 of those, valued at $112 million, including:

  • $16 million for the Core Area Action Plan,
  • $17.6 million for waste diversion and green bins, and
  • $15.5 million for London Middlesex Community Housing (LMHC) Infrastructure gap.

Council will also consider the remaining Business Cases – which total $71 million - that are not “prioritized.”

They include:

  • $14.3 million for implementing some parts of the Climate Emergency Action Plan,
  • $4.2 million for improved snow clearing,
  • $5.3 million for regenerating public housing, and
  • $20.2 million co-investment of LMHC with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

On Wednesday, city hall will release a list of potential service reductions and eliminations that could reduce spending and mitigate the tax rate.

Londoners are being encouraged to participate in the budget process before council deliberates on its spending priorities for the next four years.

On Dec. 18, an online Business Case Survey will be posted on:

Budget Open House sessions will be held on Jan. 11, 13, 15 and 16. Details are posted on the City of London website.

A formal public participation meeting will held on Jan. 23 at city hall.

Budget deliberations begin Jan. 30 inside council chambers.