Hamilton taxpayers facing 10% tax hike due to sewer & water upgrades, provincial downloading

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Published November 28, 2023 at 1:39 pm

wastewater plant

Hamilton taxpayers are looking at a ten per cent hike in their property taxes next year to pay for sewer and water, with most of that increase blamed on the loss of development charges and other changes stemming from the Province’s contentious Bill 23.

The City’s Budget Committee was told about $23.5 million of the expected increased can be tracked back to provincial downloading, including $14 million in lost development charges.

“The bulk of the increase is the provincial impact,” said General Issues (Budget) Committee Chair John-Paul Danko, who noted “every single municipality in Ontario” is facing the same issue.

The expected tax hike of 10.04 per cent would mean an extra $88 on average out of each taxpayer’s pocket, with the City facing an overall tax bump of about 14 per cent when the final budget is delivered to Council in February unless further cuts are found.

A rapidly deteriorating water and sewer system and Hamilton’s efforts in financing the upkeep and needed upgrades is a major factor in the City’s $303.3 million operating budget for water, wastewater and storm treatment.

Nearly two-thirds of that total – $182.2 million – is for financing costs and one of the recommendations of the report the committee heard Monday is that the City appeal to both the provincial and federal governments for financial assistance in addressing the infrastructure deficit.

The Operating Budget expenditures of $121.1 million scheduled for 2024 reflects an increase of $12.6 million or 11.6 per cent over last year.

The deficit problem is expected to get worse in the next decade, with Hamilton looking at capital investments in water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure that are forecasted at $4.14 billion, a jump of $870 million from last year’s 10-year forecast.

The increase, committee was told, is mostly attributable to efforts required to eliminate the infrastructure deficit and major future projects, including the Dundas Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade (2024 –2032) and work associated with flooding and drainage improvements. Both projects are already underway.

The water, wastewater and stormwater budget was approved unanimously, with the final budget expected to be delivered to Council February 15.

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