At this week’s meeting of Council, Council unanimously passed the Town of Aurora’s 2023 Budget; approving a 2.5% per cent increase and 1% for infrastructure reserves. Council members and staff worked hard to consider every avenue for cost savings to keep any increase to as low a rate as possible. But the economic realities are stark. Just like all residents, businesses and organizations across the country, the Town of Aurora is also feeling the pinch from the highest inflation we’ve seen in a generation, caused by the lingering impacts of COVID-19 and geopolitical events like the war in Ukraine. The cost of operating the Town and maintaining our roads, facilities and sewer systems have all increased significantly in the last year. Through this budget process Council has worked to limit those impact on residents. While inflation year-over-year across Canada is between 6 and 7 per cent, the proposed increase on your tax bill is significantly lower than that while at the same time affording us the ability to maintain current service levels and programs. I firmly believe this is a testament to the prudent financial stewardship that the Town has become known for across the GTA.
As residents know, unlike other levels of government, municipalities are very limited in how we can generate revenue to pay for programs and services that our taxpayers expect; Generally, they can be raised one of two ways – with property taxes and/or user fees. But residents may not know that for every dollar of property tax we do collect, the Town only keeps 37 cents, with the majority going to York Region and to the provincial Ministry of Education. That means that just 1/3 of the municipal tax collected is available to municipalities to deliver the services and programs and other operational needs of our residents. When you add the new provincial changes due to Bill 23 to the way municipalities can collect development charges – and uncertainly on whether those lost funds will be recuperated from the province –municipalities all across the province continue to face the challenge of maintaining services and programs without adding undue burden on residents who are already facing skyrocketing inflation at the grocery store, at the pump, and virtually everywhere else.
This is the first budget of the new term of Council and I am proud of the work we have accomplished together. I believe that the Town of Aurora’s 2023 budget strikes a strong balance that recognizes the financial pressures facing residents by keeping the tax increase as low as possible while at the same time maintaining current service levelsand making important investments in capital projects that we know are essential to ensuring Aurora has the infrastructure in place to support a growing population.
I want to thank staff for the hard work they’ve put into this budget. And I also want to thank residents who took part in our budget consultation process, as your feedback and input has been invaluable in helping us prioritize the things that matter most to you.