On Dec. 12, municipal council approved the 2018 city budget, calling it “a balanced approach for Markham residents.” For taxpayers, it means a 2.9 per cent rate increase on their tax bill.

Coming in at $456.2 million, almost half (47.9 per cent) of the new budget goes to operating costs and the library.

The approved increases include 1.94 per cent for day-to-day operating costs and 0.50 per cent in infrastructure investment. Funds set aside in the “Life Cycle” reserve ensures the rehabilitation and replacement of municipal infrastructure for the next 25 years. As well, 0.46 per cent addresses new provincial legislation under Bill 148: The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.

The good news is Markham’s continued standing, for 10 years running, as the municipality with the lowest tax rate increase across the Greater Toronto Area.

Investments covered in the budget include the world class gold, LEED-certified, Aaniin Community Centre and Library; increased service levels with expedited delivery of new parks and additional multi-use pathways; and the continuation of the flood control program in West Thornhill, along with acceleration of work in other areas of Markham to make the city more resilient to climate change.

“We have managed to strike the right balance,” said Mayor Frank Scarpitti. “We are keeping tax rates low, while maintaining the exceptional service levels our residents have come to expect in the City of Markham.

“From community centres to parks to roads, the calibre of our facilities and amenities is second to none. I am particularly excited about the opening of the Aaniin Community Centre and Library, an impressive state-of-the-art facility. We are also protecting our assets and investing in the future for the benefit of future generations.”

“We listened to our community,” added budget chief, Councillor Logan Kanapathi. “This budget is realistic, fiscally responsible and delivers good value for taxpayers.”

“This budget positions Markham as a leader in delivering outstanding municipal services and amenities, while ensuring a high quality of life for our residents,” said budget vice-chair, Councillor Amanda Collucci. “For example, we are providing our new communities with immediate access to new parks, and extending our pathways for walking, running and cycling.”

The city collects property taxes on behalf of York Region and the Province of Ontario too, with 51 per cent of all Markham taxes going to the region. The city retains about 25 per cent of the taxes collected with the remainder going to the province for education.

In the photo, from the left, are: Mayor Frank Scarpitti, Councillor Logan Kanapathi and Councillor Amanda Collucci at the Markham 2018 budget news conference. Photo courtesy of the City of Markham.