Community

Mayor uses new powers to table budgets

Whitchurch-Stouffville Mayor Iain Lovatt tabled two draft budgets using his new Strong Mayor Powers.

“The budgets highlight the Town’s strategic priorities and set the road map for investments in our future,” he says.

“Council and staff are committed to enhancing our residents’ experience in town and I believe this budget demonstrates the strategic investment in our future will be key as we move forward.”

He tabled the 2024-2026 Draft Operating and Capital Budget and the Draft Water and Wastewater Budget on November 8. The first outlines the Town’s financial plans for the next three years and explores how Council plans to achieve balanced budget next year.

The 2024 gross operating expenditures of $76.4 million include a library grant of $2.9 million for a net levy increase of $612,000 or 1.47 per cent, with an additional two per cent for capital asset needs and one per cent for Main Street reconstruction. Other capital initiatives include Commercial Street and O’Brien Avenue reconstruction and Bethesda Sideroad resurfacing.

Salaries and benefits are the most significant operating investment, representing about 48 per cent of gross expenditures. When the Town’s 2024 tax levy increase is combined with York Region and education portions, residents face an estimated blended property tax increase of 3.03 per cent.

The second budget outlines the Town’s water and wastewater rates and charges over the next three years. The total budget for water and wastewater operations in 2024 is $20.2 million, which represents an increase of $482,900 over the approved 2023 budget, resulting in 2024 user fee increase of 4.4 per cent effective April 1.

A significant portion of that budget is allocated to maintaining and upgrading aging water and wastewater infrastructure, ensuring system reliability and minimizing disruptions. Sustainable water management practices, including water conservation and the reduction of energy consumption in wastewater treatment, and ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations are top priorities.

The Strong Mayor Powers granted to Stouffville this past summer came into effect on October 31. To obtain the powers, the Town committed to the Province’s Housing Pledge and adopted it in September. It was assigned a housing target of 6,500 new residential dwellings to be constructed by 2031. Municipalities that pledge to achieve their targets have access to the Building Faster Fund, which will reward municipalities that are on track to meet their targets.

Lovatt encourages residents to read the budgets at www.townofws.ca/budgets and to attend a special council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 21 to share your thoughts. Visit www.townofws.ca/council to learn more.

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