Markham Council has approved the city’s 2021 Budget of $520.9 million.
The zero per cent property tax rate increase will help Markham property owners to better weather these uncertain and challenging times that the community continues to deal with during COVID-19.
Similar to what other municipalities are experiencing, the Markham economy has been negatively impacted by the effects of COVID-19. The city anticipates 2021 will be a difficult year for the community and as a result, council knew it was important to approve a zero per cent property tax rate increase.
“This current year has brought unprecedented challenges for residents and businesses and we are committed to lessening the burden to our property taxpayers by approving a zero per cent property tax increase,” Mayor Frank Scarpitti said. “Throughout the pandemic, the City of Markham has taken a fiscally responsible approach to managing our finances.”
In anticipation that COVID-19 will continue to impact many Markham property taxpayers in 2021, Markham Council approved a new Property Tax and Stormwater Fee Payment Deferral Program to support property owners who have been financially affected by COVID-19. This assistance is by application only and is meant to aid residential and business property owners who require payment flexibility throughout the 2021 taxation year. More information about this program and eligibility requirements can be found at markham.ca/TaxRelief.
“In light of these unprecedented and difficult times, Markham continues to provide responsible and strong fiscal management,” said Budget Chief and Councillor Amanda Collucci. “We know this is a challenging time for many.”
The city will spend more than $100,000 in 2021 to update its Diversity Action Plan – Everyone Welcome. Already, it has appointed a special advisor to provide advice and guidance on measures to address anti-Black racism and established a Mayor’s Anti-Black Racism Youth Liaison Committee. Council and staff are receiving education on anti-Black racism to better inform decisions the City takes as an organization.
The city is investing $1 million in the second year of its Neighbourhood Tree Maintenance Program. Upon completion of the three-year program, the city will have pruned about 100,000 street trees, which increases community accessibility on streets and sidewalks, reduces obstructions, improves the health of city trees and grows Markham’s urban forest.
Markham has also earmarked $11.7 million for the first phase of the Markham Centre Trail from Warden Avenue to Birchmount Road and the construction of Celebration Park (Ward 7), Blodwen Davies Park (Ward 5), Yonge & Grandview Park (Ward 1), Green Lane Park (Ward 1), Berczy Beckett Park (Ward 6) and Markham Centre Trail Phase 1B (Ward 3).
As part of its 30-year Flood Control Program to improve storm drainage capacity and to limit flooding risks, Markham will spend $21 million on flood control and stormwater management and is also investing $18.4 million in water and wastewater system replacements and upgrades. The budget also tackles road infrastructure improvements: $6.8 million has been set aside to resurface 17.5 kilometres of two and four-lane roads and to complete pavement preservation on 6.8 kilometres of four-lane roads throughout the city.
Scarpitti acknowledged the $66 million Markham received in financial assistance from the federal and provincial governments to offset operating losses incurred because of COVID-19. Markham has the lowest 16-year average tax rate increase in the Greater Toronto Area at 2.08 per cent, he reports. It retains about 25 per cent of residential property taxes collected. Another 51 per cent go to York Region and the remaining 24 per cent go to the provincial government for education.
Photo: Clockwise from top left, Budget Chief and Councillor Amanda Collucci, Budget Committee Vice-Chair and Councillor Andrew Keyes, and Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti announce the 2021 Budget in a virtual press conference on December 10.