Hamilton’s potential residential tax increase sits at 2.5 per cent following the first city budget meeting of the new year.
City councillors will spend the next couple of months trying to further reduce that number.
Ancaster Coun. Lloyd Ferguson says 2.5 per cent would be “tough to sell” during the pandemic, as employee-related costs make up about two-thirds of the city’s expenses.
He stresses that municipal employees do “great work” but are “in a bit of a bubble” when compared to thousands of unemployed workers in the tourism and hospitality and retail sectors.
Ward 6 Coun. Tom Jackson says he’s also looking for more budget reductions during “very unique times,” and would ultimately like to bring the 2021 residential tax increase under two per cent.
Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger says he supports getting down to a “lower” average tax number, but cautions that he wants to maintain front-line services, such as waste collection, policing and bylaw.
The proposed budget is seeking a net reduction of 34 city staff, including the closing of Hamilton’s light rail transit (LRT) office, following the province’s cancellation of that project.
General manager of finance Mike Zegarac says achieving Jackson’s goal of a tax increase lower than two per cent would mean finding roughly another $5 million in savings.
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