Newmarket’s 2022 budget plans will be starting off with a proposed 1.99 per cent increase.
During Monday’s committee of the whole meeting, councillors discussed the budget target for 2022. The number is set ahead of the budget's completion annually, so staff have a target to work toward. This year, staff proposed setting a 2.99 per cent increase, however, Mayor John Taylor asked to see that reduced to 1.99 per cent.
“(These have) been tough years. I think its incumbent upon us to find a balance, as we did last year,” said Taylor. “We’re not going to starve the system, but I think it’s important to realize these are difficult times and we should reflect that in our budgeting process.”
“We need one more year of significant restraint,” he said.
Councillor Bob Kwapis asked what the one per cent difference would mean in terms of dollars to the average household in Newmarket.
Treasurer Mike Mayes said it would work out to about $16 per household. He said when the budget comes forward, staff would provide details on the implications of the one per cent difference to service levels as part of that presentation.
Councillor Jane Twinney said she would like to see the target reduced further, adding she understood how difficult that would be to accomplish.
“It’s not just the $16 to the average household in Newmarket. Residents are seeing increased costs in hydro, heating their homes, they have their kids at home more. There are a lot of other factors playing into it,” said Twinney. “They’re talking about how much groceries are going up.”
Deputy Mayor Tom Vegh asked if the budget estimates included any COVID-19 funds from the provincial or federal government, or if it reflected any anticipated costs associated with COVID-19.
“This (presentation) is high level, and it was silent in that area,” he said.
Manager of finance and accounting Andrea Tang said at this time, the budget didn’t take any COVID-19 grants into consideration, or any COVID-19 related expenses.
“The 2022 budget will still be based on a normal, pre-COVID year,” she said.
Taylor clarified that the town does have a COVID-19 reserve fund that includes leftover 2021 allotments from other levels of government, so staff is planning the 2022 budget separate from COVID considerations.
According to the budget timeline for 2022 presented by Tang, community engagement on the budget will take place from June to November. Budget deliberation by council is slated for October and November, with final approval planned in December 2021.
Last year, the 2021 Town of Newmarket operating budget was $137 million and the capital budget was $37.9 million, for a combined total of $174.9 million. The tax increase in 2021 was 1.98 per cent.
During Monday’s meeting, council voted unanimously in favour of directing staff to build a 2022 budget with a target of a 1.99 per cent tax increase.