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Richmond Hill Council Passes Balanced Operating Budget - February 23, 2016

Contacts:
Brenda Hogg, Regional & Local Councillor and Budget Chair, 905-771-2498, brenda.hogg@richmondhill.ca
David Dexter, Acting Commissioner, Corporate & Financial Services and Treasurer, 905-771-2484, david.dexter@richmondhill.ca

Richmond Hill Council Passes Balanced Operating Budget
2016 Operating Budget Addresses Rising Costs and Builds a Foundation for the Future

RICHMOND HILL – At a Special Council Meeting on February 23, Richmond Hill Council approved the 2016 Operating Budget of $156.2 million. To ensure the municipality can repair and maintain its infrastructure, an additional $15 fee will also be levied.

“This is a responsible budget given the challenges and pressures the Town is facing,” said Mayor Dave Barrow. “Council is committed to maintaining quality services for our residents and we have spent months garnering public input and opinion as well as working with staff to ensure the lowest possible increase without impacting our community. I truly believe we’ve done everything we can.”

The $156.2 million Operating Budget will result in a 4.25 per cent increase to the municipal portion of the total property tax bill. In addition, a special levy for 2016 of $15 was approved to fund repair and replacement of aging infrastructure (such as roads, parks and buildings). This will appear as Capital Asset Sustainability on Richmond Hill tax bills.

Richmond Hill’s taxes only account for approximately one quarter of the total tax bill. When combined with the Region of York and school board impacts to the tax bill, Richmond Hill residents will see an overall tax rate increase of 2.57 per cent. This is equal to $136.12 in property taxes on an average home assessed at $638,000.

“Our budget is the monetary expression of our organization’s priorities, plans, commitments and responsibilities,” said Budget Chair, Regional & Local Councillor Brenda Hogg. “Our community is always changing and we need to ensure appropriate funding is available now and in the future, for the projects that matter to residents. This budget addresses immediate and long-term goals.”

Council also approved the 2016 Water, Wastewater and Stormwater budget. The nine per cent increase on water and wastewater takes effect April 1, 2016 and represents the exact increase York Region will charge Richmond Hill for these services. The nine per cent increase to the Stormwater Management Rate will increase the annual rate to $57.10 for residential properties.

At the February 23 meeting, Council also increased the Seniors’ Tax Assistance Grant to $360 per eligible applicant.

Visit RichmondHill.ca/Budget for more information about Richmond Hill’s 2016 Budget, including a tax calculator and departmental draft budgets and presentations.

Please see the attached Backgrounder: 2016 Operating Budget for more information.


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Backgrounder: 2016 Operating Budget

Richmond Hill 2016 Budgets
  • Operating Budget = $156.2 million (approved February 23, 2016)
  • Capital Budget = $84.5 million (approved November 23, 2015)
  • Water, Wastewater & Stormwater Budget = $71.3 million (approved February 23, 2016)
What public consultation was completed for the 2016 Operating Budget?
Public consultation was again a key component of the 2016 Budget process. Council and staff engaged the public through an information session for residents at Hillcrest Mall on January 23, an information session for the business community January 19 and the introduction of a new budget feedback tool, Citizen Budget. Emails from residents to the budget@richmondhill.ca address were also provided to the Budget Committee of the Whole for consideration during budget meetings.

What were the results of the Citizen Budget online survey that Richmond Hill conducted as part of the public consultation for the 2016 Operating Budget?
More than 130 people completed the Citizen Budget. The majority of respondents indicated that they wanted the same levels of service for each of the categories, including Fire & Emergency Services, Roads Related Maintenance, Winter Maintenance and Snow Clearing, Recreation & Culture, Parks Maintenance and Operations, Organics, Recycling & Waste Collection, Environment Services, By-Law Enforcement & Licensing, Library Services and Repair & Replacement Funding.

Why does Richmond Hill need a special levy?
Richmond Hill has reserve funds to pay for the repair and replacement of Municipal infrastructure, including local roads and sidewalks, parks and trails, community centres, arenas and libraries. As our buildings, roads and other infrastructure continue to age, the cost to maintain them to an appropriate and safe standard will continue to increase. In the past few years, Richmond Hill has needed to spend more to maintain infrastructure than it has contributed to the funds. The levy for 2016 is $15 per tax account. Without the special levy, Richmond Hill could run out of money to repair infrastructure as early as 2021.

What are some of Richmond Hill’s budget pressures?
Richmond Hill is facing many of the same financial pressures as homeowners, including increased costs for utilities and supplies. Increasing hydro costs add almost $1 million to the 2016 Operating Budget, representing an almost 1 per cent tax increase. In addition, Richmond Hill faces rising costs for many materials used for road work and winter maintenance. Inflation costs include:

  • Consumer Price Index (CPI): +2.0%
  • Hydro: +10%
  • Road/traffic contracts, materials and supplies: +5.75%
  • Non-Metallic Minerals (includes salt): +10.5%
  • Stone, Sand, Gravel, Clay and etc: +2.70%
  • Commercial Software (Canada): +10.6%
  • Water & Wastewater wholesale rates: +9%

    Why have Richmond Hill’s water rates gone up?
    All properties in Richmond Hill are billed for water supply and wastewater services. Both services are billed based on the metered water consumption, as water meters are engineered to be extremely accurate. The 9% increase to the water and wastewater rates is driven by the rate charged to Richmond Hill by the Region of York. The Town is required to recover the costs for this charge.

    How does Richmond Hill’s Municipal Tax Rate compare?
    Richmond Hill's municipal tax rate remains lower than most Greater Toronto Area (GTA) municipalities. In York Region, only Markham has a lower tax rate. The rate of tax is multiplied by the assessed value of a home to determine the tax bill each year. This chart shows a selection of GTA tax rates, including education and regional impacts where applicable.

    What are the Key Budget Directions that guide Richmond Hill’s budget process?
    Richmond Hill developed the 2016 Operating Budget with the following directions to staff:
    • Maintain existing service levels
    • Minimize the tax rate impact
    • Provide for approved new items and service level changes adopted in 2015
    • Remain true to the Town of Richmond Hill’s financial principles:
      • Thorough short and long term planning
      • Prudent consideration of reserves
      • Leverage available funding sources

    How are residential property taxes divided?
    Richmond Hill accounts for only about a quarter of the tax bill. The residential tax bill is divided as follows:
    • Richmond Hill - 28% of property taxes
    • Region of York - 49% of property taxes
    • School Boards - 23% of property taxes

       
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