Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
Region hits homeowners with $30 tax increase
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 26 Jan 2007, p. 1, 5

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Local residents will be digging a little deeper in their pockets this year now that regional council has approved its 2007 budget with a $30 tax increase. The budget and business plan-- which also includes a four per cent water and wastewater rate increase, or an extra $26.17 for the typical household-- was endorsed by council at its meeting Wednesday. The approval brings into effect a 2.5 per cent tax increase, which equates to $29.76 based on a $300,000 assessment. It's comprised of $22.32 extra for police services and $7.44 for regional services. The hike is up slightly from the initially proposed 2.4 per cent increase due to the addition of $200,000 to the budget for local domiciliary hostel funding, which was recommended by the health and social services committee. The extra money added less than $1 to the tax increase. At the council meeting, discussions focused around one part of the budget motion that calls for Halton to freeze its upcoming payment for GTA pooling (a system the Province introduced to help Toronto pay for its social service costs) at the 2006 level, which staff estimates will total around $41 million. Halton Director of Legal Services Mark Meneray told councillors that the Region could be subject to interest payments and penalties if it doesn't pay in full. It's not known how much Halton will actually be asked to pay for 2007. While Burlington Councillor Rick Craven voiced his opposition to pooling, he also spoke out against the motion. "I can not support what I consider to be an illegal act," he said. "It's not up to us to take the law into our own hands." But, Halton Hills Mayor Rick Bonnette countered all the Region is trying to do is make a strong statement to the Province that an exit strategy has to be developed for pooling.

He noted Halton has sent letters and resolutions to the Province already to voice its displeasure with the pooling system, but "they haven't listened." Both York and Peel regions have already frozen their pooling payments, and Burlington Mayor Cam Jackson noted there's "strength in numbers." Halton Hills Councillor Jane Fogal said even by capping the payment, the Region is still sending in a lot of money for pooling. "Maybe we should go right to the formula we think is fair," she suggested. Fellow Halton Hills Councillor Clark Somerville, who brought the pooling motion forward originally, urged his fellow councillors to support the resolution. He pointed out that with a provincial election coming, it's important to bring the issue up now. In the end, the motion carried 19-2, with only Craven and Carol D'Amelio voting against it. Halton's pooling costs have steadily risen since 2003, going from about $34 million then to the current estimated $41 million--- a figure that's also contained in the 2007 budget. In fact, since pooling started in 1998, the Region has contributed almost $325 million for Toronto's social services. The approved 2.5 per cent tax increase means a typical household will pay $1,258 in Halton taxes next year. Included in that figure is $406 for police services, $278 for social and community services, $182 for GTA pooling, $145 for planning and transportation and $114 for waste management. And on the water and wastewater side, the average household will spend about $675 for the services in 2007, based on an annual consumption of 300 cubic metres. Some of the major expenses in the budget include $12 million for a wastewater main on Upper Middle Road from Bronte Road to west of Third Line, $10.6 million to widen Trafalgar Road from Britannia Road to south of Hwy. 401 and $8 million to construct James Snow Parkway from Steeles Avenue to Boston Church Road. For more information on the 2007 budget visit www.halton.ca.

Hennessey, Melanie
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26 Jan 2007
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Meneray, Mark ; Craven, Rick ; Bonnette, Rick ; Somerville, Clark ; Jackson, Cam ; Fogal, Jane ; D'Amelio, Carol
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Region hits homeowners with $30 tax increase