At a Special Council Meeting on February 6, Richmond Hill Council approved the 2018 Operating Budget and capital asset sustainability fee. The $174.82 million budget represents an increase of $2.9 million, within the Council-directed maximum increase.
“Council set the direction for the 2018 budget last June to ensure we maintain and where possible, enhance services to Richmond Hill residents while keeping tax increases reasonable,” said Mayor Dave Barrow. “We continue to grow and prosper as a municipality and our residents benefit and contribute to our thriving community.”
Richmond Hill’s budget increase is equal to a $49.77 increase on the annual tax bill of an average Richmond Hill home valued at $1.1 million. Richmond Hill is also responsible for collecting taxes on behalf of York Region and the school boards. York Region’s budget increase is equal to an $86.73 increase on an average Richmond Hill home valued at $1.1 million.
Highlights of the Operating Budget include:
* Completion of construction and opening of the new Oak Ridges Library Branch (spring 2018)
* Completion of construction and opening of the Ed Sackfield 2nd ice pad and fitness facility
* Completion of the LED street light conversation project for arterial roads, parks and parking lots
* Summer Camp Programs at the David Dunlap Observatory (DDO)
* Installment of 10,000 radio frequency water meters
* Information technology projects to improve efficiency (system updates) and external service (e.g. parking ticket management)
“With the 2018 Operating Budget we continue to work within the parameters we have for savings and revenue,” said Budget Chair, Regional & Local Councillor Vito Spatafora. “We fully leverage available funding, such as gas tax grants, to ensure Richmond Hill residents get the best value for their tax dollars.”
Some new staff are included in the 2018 Operating Budget. For the Ed Sackfield Arena expansion, a new Arena Operator, Lead Hand and Skating Coordinator will be hired. An additional four firefighters will be added as Richmond Hill continues to implement its Fire Master Plan and a Water and Wastewater Operator, funded through the Water Rate, will be hired.
“One of the budget pressures we are facing this year is the increase in minimum wage to $14 per hour that took effect January 1,” said Mayor Barrow. “Many of our part-time staff work in core services like recreation and are crucial, so we are funding the difference through reserves this year while we look at adjusting fees for 2019.”
Council also approved the 2018 Water, Wastewater and Stormwater budget. The 7.5 per cent increase on water and wastewater takes effect April 1, 2018 and is largely driven by the nine per cent wholesale rate increase York Region charges for these services. To help mitigate the increase, Richmond Hill is ending the early payment discount program on water bills effective July 1, 2018.
The 2018 Operating Budget also:
* sets the Stormwater Management Rate for 2018 at $67.84 per year for residential properties,
* adjusts the capital asset sustainability fee to $47 per tax account, and
* increases the Seniors’ Tax Assistance Grant for 2018 to $387 per eligible applicant.
This budget lets us move forward on not only current projects like the renewal of David Hamilton Park, making the DDO a public asset and others, but also important projects that will impact our community in the future like the Civic Precinct, new infrastructure and more.
Approval of the Operating Budget and Water, Wastewater and Stormwater budget is the final phase of Budget 2018, a public process which included a business community information session December 8, 2017 and a public information session January 20. Council previously approved the 2018 Capital Budget of $70.64 million in November 2017.
Visit RichmondHill.ca/Budget for more information about Richmond Hill’s 2018 Budgets.