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Newmarket mayor urges more feedback on how your tax dollars are spent

'For people who are skeptical and wonder, ‘Should I bother?’ Trust me, your input matters,' John Taylor says regarding low turnout at livestream session
2021-11-16-Newmarket public budget 2022-JQ-2
Newmarket presented the budget to the public in an online session Nov. 16.

Newmarket is encouraging more residents to get involved with the 2022 budget consultation after a limited response to a live streamed public session Nov. 16.

The town held a virtual session via Facebook, which reached approximately 30 viewers at peak. But only one person asked anything during a question-and-answer session.

Mayor John Taylor said the public can make a difference in the town decisions.

“Please reach out to us. You can reach out to myself, or the deputy mayor, or your ward councillors, have a conversation about the budget,” Taylor said. “It makes a difference. I can tell you public input at our planning meetings, in our budget process, year over year, for many years now, I’ve watched it make a difference. For people who are skeptical and wonder, ‘Should I bother?’ Trust me, your input matters."

The mayor and staff spoke about the $171.9 million draft budget, detailing the impact on tax rates. The town is proposing a 1.99 per cent property tax rate increase— down from the 2.99 per cent increase proposed in May — with an accompanying 3.8 per cent water rate and 10 per cent stormwater increase, creating a total impact of $96.81 on the annual tax bill for an average home.

Taylor emphasized that the town is beginning to move past COVID-19 and toward other initiatives. He said Newmarket is looking for balance between putting money into reserves and burdening taxpayers.

“If something has to be done 30 years from now, everybody pays their own share of it, so that the taxpayer in 30 years doesn't pay all of it, nor does the taxpayer of today pay all of it,” Taylor said. “We don’t want to overburden current taxpayers.”

The town broke down all the different services your tax dollars support. It also highlighted upcoming initiatives such as Mulock Park, new trails, the Mulock multi-use path and more.

Justin Frape questioned if the town could invest more in its economic development office with the municipal population expanding, perhaps making it an independent agency.

“We should have more horsepower for business attraction, retention and expansion,” Frape said. 

Taylor responded the town does economic development through partnerships with local agencies like the chamber, the region and the GTA, as well as cultural projects.

“Do we need to, in the future as we grow, invest more in economic development? Absolutely,” Taylor said. “But the investment is done through many agencies and many partnerships.”

The livestream session was the only public-oriented event in this year’s budget cycle, however, the town has had several council budget meetings open for the public and is also running an online survey until Nov. 19. The final draft budget is due to be presented to council Dec. 6 and finalized Dec. 13. 

“We’re very proud of the work we’re doing,” Taylor said. “We’re doing it because we have a community that cares, a community that asks us and insists we do better and we do more.”