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Here’s what’s driving a potential 5.4% to 13% property tax increase in London next year

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Already facing affordability challenges, Londoners might be digging much, much deeper to cover property tax increases in the 2024-2027 Draft Municipal Budget.

Over the of duration of the four-year budget, the average annual increase to maintain existing service levels is 4.9 per cent, but would rise to 9 per cent if all of the proposed business cases for spending changes are supported by council.

Specifically in 2024, the base budget requires a 5.4 per cent increase to maintain existing services, but could rise as high as 13 per cent if council approves all of the business cases being proposed.

Most of the budget pressure is coming from funding requests by the city’s agencies, boards and commissions.

There are a total of 87 business cases for council consideration

  • 13 legislatively required business cases (0.4% average annual tax increase)
  • 7 business cases prioritized by civic administration (0.3% average annual tax increase)
  • 67 other business cases (up to 3.4% average annual tax increase)

With the exception of legislatively required business cases, all others will be decision points for council and the mayor.

Some of the business cases putting the most pressure on taxpayers include

  • $56.9 million London Police Service Modernization
  • $41.9 million London Transit Service Hours Increase
  • $45.5 million Climate Emergency Action Plan
  • $21.5 million Ontario’s Building More Homes Faster Act- Statutory Exemptions
  • $20.4 million London Public Library Facilities Plan
  • $17.2 million London Police Training Centre

On the low end, an average annual tax rate increase of 4.9 per cent would result in a $175 increase to the average household property tax bill each of the four years, boosting the average bill $698 more by 2027.

At the top end, a nine per cent average annual increase would add $329 dollars each year, meaning the average tax bill would rise about $1,316 by 2027.

The average annual property tax increase in the current four-year budget (2020-2023) was 3.4 per cent.

In addition, water bills and wastewater bills are projected to rise on average $14 and $29 dollars each year.

After 46 mayors received so-called ‘strong-mayor powers’ from the provincial government this year, Mayor Josh Morgan could play an even more significant role in this year’s deliberations.

The legislation dictates that the mayor propose a budget by Feb. 1 or council prepares and adopts a budget.

The budget released this week is simply a draft budget prepared by civic administration for political consideration.

The mayor also has potential veto powers during the budget process, but a 2/3 majority of council can overrule his veto.

Other notable Business Cases include

  • $7 million Ontario’s Building More Homes Faster Act- Additional Staff
  • $5.3 million Police Vehicles
  • $4.8 million Rapid Transit Implementation Cost Increase
  • $3.2 million Wharncliffe Road CN Rail Grade Separation Cost Increase
  • $11.7 million Next Generation 911 Centre
  • $11.5 million City Hall building urgent repairs and lifecycle renewal
  • $5.8 million Community Housing Subsidy Investment
  • $7.9 million Parks Department Service Enhancements
  • $11.6 Community Improvement Plan (CIP) changes
  • $13.2 million Core Area Initiatives
  • $7.4 million Zero-Emission Bus Transmission
  • $9.3 million Office Upgrades within city hall

Homelessness related Business Cases Include

  • $2.5 million Giwetashkad Indigenous Homelessness Strategic Plan
  • $5.8 million Community Housing (RGI) Subsidy Investment
  • $6 million Community Affordable Housing Development Resources
  • $2.8 million Housing Stability Bank Expansion
  • $1.6 million Housing Stability Table
  • $1.9 million Housing Support Case Management
  • $4.5 million Head Lease Program
  • $10 million Roadmap to 3,000 Affordable Units
  • $3.5 million LMCH Regeneration of Community Housing
  • $6.4 million LMCH Service Improvements
  • $864,000 Community Housing Safety Program

In 2023, the average residential property tax bill in London, including education component, was $3,536, the third lowest out of Ontario municipalities with populations over 100,000.

The amount of property taxes paid as a percentage of average household income stands at 3.5 per cent in London, below the 3.9 per cent average of those same comparable cities.

There are many opportunities for Londoners to provide input about their spending priorities before the budget is finalized in early March.

Budget Open House

  • City Hall – Jan. 10 (4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.)

Public Pop-Up Events

  • South London Community Centre – Jan. 13 (10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)
  • East Lion’s Community Centre – Jan. 16 (10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)
  • Canada Games Aquatic Centre – Jan. 17 (5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.)
  • Kiwanis Senior’s Centre – Jan. 19 (11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.)
  • Stoneycreek Community Centre – Jan. 22 (4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.)
  • Startech.com Community Centre – Jan. 25 (10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)

Eight days have been set aside in February for budget deliberations but council’s budget committee

  • Formal Budget Release at SPPC – Dec. 12
  • Public Participation Meeting #1 – Jan. 29
  • Budget Deliberations – Feb. 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23
  • Public Participation Meeting #2 Feb. 27
  • Final Approval of 2024-2027 Multi-Year Budget March 5

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