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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 2:32 pm 
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Council will be reviewing the budget on the 17th and hopefully the 18th as well and then it comes to council the following Monday for approval. We need your input now.

Weve been reading these documents for the last few weeks, its not easy but comments like here on this thread or on my blog go a long way to find out what taxpayers are thinking.

Rick Di Lorenzo wrote:
Steve & Kelly wrote:
I am waiting to submit my comments until after the budget meeting(s) takes place.
If you wait until *after* monday then your limiting yourself from providing any input.

I mean council will be meeting and voting on items in the budget. Why not comment before and provide some input ? You could do so privately or publicly.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:49 am 
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You folks on town council had better hold the line on spendatures because there is a lot of pain ahead to come.

W


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:13 am 
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williamb wrote:
You folks on town council had better hold the line on spendatures because there is a lot of pain ahead to come.
There is a possible 10 million annual defecit in infrastructure renewal (i.e. we're building the roads, sewers, water ways, bridges, etc but we're not saving any money for their eventual repair or maintenance). We'll see the full report on that defecit in a detailed report this year. To put that in perspective, a $10 million operating budget defecit is in theory about a 32% tax increase if it was addressed all in 1 year. That's just a mind numbing figure and pretending it's not there won't make it go away.

There is the future hospital expansion which will cost the town millions (exact figures not known yet)

There is the $500,000 portion of the milton hydro dividend related to the past sale of or Milton Fibre (Telecom) division (which I didn't necessarily agree with) which will disappear in the future budgets from town revenue as we 'eat up' that money from the past sale proceeds.

There's the full operating costs of the Milton Centre for the Arts and the expanded Milton Sports Centre and the new larger Central Library which will only start to fully hit the town's operating budget in 2012.

So yes, put all those 4 items together and there is significant expenditures approaching in 2012-2013.

We need to ensure our budgets have the long term sustainability and a road map in mind. Trying to artificially keep the budget low one year is only going to bite us in the butt the next. On costs like infrastructure renewal, hospital, those are costs we *will* need to spend...avoiding it just means more pain and wacky double-digit tax increases in the future.

Yes Milton has the lowest property tax rate in the GTA. But part of the reason we have that is because we've been avoiding saving money aside for some serious future expenditures that are looming closer every year. No thank you to that, let's work to avoid future 'perfect storms' hitting our budget all at the same time.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:11 am 
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Councillors gotta quit drinking that town hall koolaid. It prevents them from questioning the spin and makes them agreeable to tax increases as the answer to increased spending.

How can they be shocked at a maybe $10 million deficit in infrastructure renewal while approving a forecast of $652 million in capital spending for 2012 to 2020 with virtually no discussion? Won't there be operating costs and maintenance for these projects too?

There was no discussion of delaying, reducing or deleting programs such as the town hall expansion in 2014 t0 2016 for $ 25 million, the new library expansion, trails for $19 million, or 3 new community centres (whatever they are) for $100 million. Heck, if they had rummaged around in that pile they may have found enough loose cash for the local share of our hospital expansion, without a tax increase.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:34 am 
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Except what you're proposing garlis would in the long term have a significant impact on the available community services down the road. I've been spending the last 3 months in a city where community services are spread pretty thin and sprawl is rampant. The combination means you might find a program of interest for you kid, but it might happen to be on the other end of town a half hour or 45 minute DRIVE away. If you don't have a car, forget it. You'd have to be up a 4 am to get there. Not gonna happen. Who suffers, the kids of all ages and adults making use of the programs. Private sector cannot make up that deficit, and if you leave it to private sector its low income people who suffer most. What does that do? Increases petty crime, obesity, depression. Somebody better kick Rick Malbouef in the butt regarding transit in very short order! Transit service is essential to a modern community. I'm sad Saturday service got shelved. Let's make sure it's not a permanent shelving! Cutting the transit budget to the tune of HOW much? Uh, we should be looking at increasing the transit budget and transit service - smartly of course, but it's an essential community service!


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:21 pm 
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Garlis

Couldn't agree with you more

W


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 3:07 pm 
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garlis wrote:
Councillors gotta quit drinking that town hall koolaid. It prevents them from questioning the spin and makes them agreeable to tax increases as the answer to increased spending.

How can they be shocked at a maybe $10 million deficit in infrastructure renewal while approving a forecast of $652 million in capital spending for 2012 to 2020 with virtually no discussion? Won't there be operating costs and maintenance for these projects too?

There was no discussion of delaying, reducing or deleting programs such as the town hall expansion in 2014 t0 2016 for $ 25 million, the new library expansion, trails for $19 million, or 3 new community centres (whatever they are) for $100 million. Heck, if they had rummaged around in that pile they may have found enough loose cash for the local share of our hospital expansion, without a tax increase.
Garlis, if I thought it would realistically have moved forward I'd have liked to set aside some funds now for building/infrastructure reserves in 2011 as well.

There was no loose change that I saw in the 2011 capital budget. If your talking about the current library expansion, that money's already contractually obligated with portions coming from stimulus funds, development charges, etc which could legally not have been redirected to the library. Any future townhall expansion are still in the future and will be debated and modified where needed when the time comes. Same thing about future library expansions. But again, as we grow from 80,000 people to 230,000 people you don't think we'll need some increased capital spending to keep our service levels from plummeting?

There are still ideas like what's the long term future of our leisure centre. What's our long term goals on library self-serve check out targets. Where do we want to plan out our transit recovery ratio targets at. There are some tough decisions ahead of us. But I'm not the slash-n-burn type that wants to see a steady reduction across the board of service levels. I like trails, parks, our sports centre, our libraries and many other community services the town provides to residents. If we're serious about keeping them, we need to be serious about long term plans on making them sustainable.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 5:00 pm 
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Delorenzo

Its exactly that "your sense of entitlement " attitude and political hacks that get budgets in trouble.

If the money isn't there. Cut it

Pretty simple eh?


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 5:02 pm 
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Delorenzo

Its exactly that "your sense of entitlement " attitude and political hacks that get budgets in trouble.

If the money isn't there. Cut it

Pretty simple eh?

Williamb


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:14 pm 
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williamb wrote:

If the money isn't there. Cut it

Williamb


So, I can expect your full support when it comes to slashing Fire, Police Waste Collection and Snow removal services?


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:59 pm 
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Rick Di Lorenzo wrote:
There was no loose change that I saw in the 2011 capital budget. If your talking about the current library expansion, that money's already contractually obligated with portions coming from stimulus funds, development charges, etc which could legally not have been redirected to the library. Any future townhall expansion are still in the future and will be debated and modified where needed when the time comes. Same thing about future library expansions. But again, as we grow from 80,000 people to 230,000 people you don't think we'll need some increased capital spending to keep our service levels from plummeting?
I wasn't talking about the 2011 capital. Over half of that was pre-approved by the last council and much of the rest was essential road upgrades.

I wasn't talking about the current library/culture centre project. That is also a done deal. IMO a bad plan, implemented early due to a stimulus funding bribe using tax funds from our other pocket. Now all taxpayers will pay the operating shortfall of $800k at the culture centre for the benefit of a few, and council must deal with the ideally-situated but now redundant downtown branch on Bruce street. No more of those projects please.

I was talking about the consolidated list of 2012 to 2020 needs and wants from all departments that was packaged by a consultant and totals about $652 million over the 9 years. I believe it is mostly that forecast that has prompted staff to forecast a 6.5% tax increase from 2011 to 2020, and higher for 2012 since 2011 ended up lower. The first year of that capital forecast will be the basis for the 2012 budget which will be there to bite council in the ass in about 6 months. Past councils have had nothing to say at these early budget meetings but I wouldn't recommend that. I was very disappointed that current council had nothing to say about this capital forecast that will drive capital reserve requirements, spin, and budgets from now to 2020.

"keep our service levels from plummeting". Who said anything about cutting services? Delaying the town hall expansion doesn't cut services. Adding space at a planned branch rather than at the main library doesn't cut services. Trails for $19 million is a new service, as is $100 million for new community centres. There is also $87 million for parks growth: could we get by with $80... and on and on but council made no comment.

A good tactic might have been a direction to staff " If satisfying the 2012 to 2020 capital forecast will require 6.5% tax increases, what would the capital forecast look like if we could only afford 3% increases." Then, "Now what would that new capital forecast look like if lower priority discretionary projects were delayed to make room for a higher priority $1.5 million per year to fund hospital expansion."

Yup, the 2012 to 2020 capital projects are in the future but are impacting budgets now and could have used direction from council.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:26 pm 
Thanks for keeping us informed Rick. Always good to get both sides of the story so we can see the whole picture.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:44 am 
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garlis wrote:
I was talking about the consolidated list of 2012 to 2020 needs and wants from all departments that was packaged by a consultant and totals about $652 million over the 9 years. I believe it is mostly that forecast that has prompted staff to forecast a 6.5% tax increase from 2011 to 2020, and higher for 2012 since 2011 ended up lower. The first year of that capital forecast will be the basis for the 2012 budget which will be there to bite council in the ass in about 6 months. Past councils have had nothing to say at these early budget meetings but I wouldn't recommend that. I was very disappointed that current council had nothing to say about this capital forecast that will drive capital reserve requirements, spin, and budgets from now to 2020.
There are many things on the 2012-2020 capital list that I have a questions about specific merits. One example would be the $1 million to renovate the old bruce street library location.

When we start meetings on the 2012 budget and more specific inputs into that budget thats when the kimono will start to open up and specific items on that long term capital list will be debated.


Last edited by Rick Di Lorenzo on Wed Jan 19, 2011 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:33 am 
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My comments on the budget can be found on my blog today.

http://mikecluett.ca/2011/01/2011-budge ... e-of-4-56/

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Mike Cluett
Local/Regional Councillor
Wards 1,6,7 & 8

Website | Email mike@mikecluett.ca | Cell (647) 888-9032 | Facebook Page | | Twitter @Mike_Cluett


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 1:55 pm 
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Thanks for the input on the tax levy situation Steve. But I do take some issue with the comment that if you have a problem with spending the money (IE tax levy proceeds) you must have a problem with the hospital expansion.

I completely disagree with that statement. You are one of the most engaged citizens in the community especially during the election campaign and you heard exactly what I heard. The hospital is a priority if not THE priority in the minds of Miltonians. I opposed this levy because of a number of reasons. I dont think the town should be hitting property tax payers with this levy with NO public consultation whatsoever.

The idea was tossed around by many candidates, some coming up with $60 million committments and some saying we need to start the fund etc. When council debated the same issue last year (of which many of the current councillors were sitting in the gallery as opposed to around the table) we heard a committment from council that they would use tax levies as a last resort. There was a list of delegates that evening who said the exact same thing. Last resort.

We are not at that stage yet. The proposal before council was to place $100K from the Milton Community Fund in this account as a start. Council was then presented with this proposal for the 1% levy. I was ok with the $100K from the community fund, but opposed to the tax levy, because were not at the last resort stage. Being there or saying we are there is a scare tactic in my eyes.

Even though there was some strong opposition to this tax without public consultation from some members of council, including myself the motion passed and its now in place. Other members of council who post here can post their reasons for supporting the motion of the tax levy without public consultation, thats their perogative.

I want to ensure everyone reading this that Council is committed to making sure we get this process started and is in 100% support of the people who work in MDH and have to suffer because of the lack of infrastructure. The nurses and doctors at MDH (depsite other peoples opinions) are doing the best they can given what they have.

Members of council disagree on the "how" not the "why".

Steve & Kelly wrote:
I personally support the 1% tax levy to be devoted strictly to the hospital expansion fund. Anybody who truly has a problem with spending this money must have a problem with the hospital expansion itself. Whether it is mandated or not, we as a town are going to have to come up with a large source of funds for things like equipment and part of the construction costs. If we do not, I can’t see how the province would treat Milton differently than other areas who have recently added a new hospital within their community If we don’t start saving now, the pain will be much more severe down the road when we have to pay. It’s a simple scenario of pay less now or pay more later. I do support the idea of further public consultation about how to raise more funds for the hospital expansion, but I feel that we had to start now.

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Mike Cluett
Local/Regional Councillor
Wards 1,6,7 & 8

Website | Email mike@mikecluett.ca | Cell (647) 888-9032 | Facebook Page | | Twitter @Mike_Cluett


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