The proposed municipal multi-year budget for 2021 and 2022 was tabled this week at Council, setting the stage for a series of discussions around priorities and opportunities for the next two years.
In 2020, Council approved the Town of Aurora’s first three-year multi-year operating budget that would see a tax levy increase of 3.4% in 2021 and 2.9% in 2022
And while normally this would be a good budget that follows our budget principles of inflation + 1% increase to contribute to financial reserves, during these challenging times we need to tighten our belts and look to where we can save. That is why staff was tasked with reducing the previously approved 3.4% to 2.9% and have been able to find the necessary savings to make this reduction without impacting services or drawing down our reserves which would impact the future financial health of our town.
Are we in a good standing position financially? Absolutely, but as residents know, delivering a tax rate that is lower than inflation would be fiscally irresponsible. Long-time Aurora residents will remember the days of “0% tax rates”, and their long-term negative effect – years of escalating tax rates, ranging from high of 9% in 2001 to two consecutive years (2005 and 2006) at 7.9%!! and 8.8%, 6% and 5.5% in between. It would not be good planning on our part to set a budget with short term gains that will result in long term pain.
The proposed 2021 budget maintains all current levels of service, as well as providing for a responsible number of investment initiatives designed to improve the quality of Aurorans’ lives and the sustainability of the Town’s infrastructure. It also accounts for the continuing impact of COVID-19 on municipal operations across the country and incorporates savings in a number of areas.
As a Council, we are very aware of how important it is for us to be fiscally responsible while ensuring residents will continue to benefit from the quality of life for which we strive in Aurora, especially during these challenging times. During the Budget deliberations, Council will continue to work hard to make sure that every tax dollar being spent has value to every resident. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues on Council to finalize a budget that serves our community.