York residents face 3.9% tax hike

The average residential property bill will increase by about $105 this year after York Region council approved a $3.96-billion budget and reconfirmed its commitment to help fund the region’s $1.12-billion portion of the Yonge North Subway Extension.

“This budget represents sound financial management and support for the region’s strategic plan priorities,” York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson says of the budget, which passes on a total tax levy hike of 3.9 per cent.

This year’s budget is the first of a multi-year budget that coincides with the current term of council. It includes $3.06 billion in operating costs, which focus on day-to-day expenses and providing funding for asset rehabilitation and replacement. It also includes $894 million in capital spending, which covers major infrastructure requirements and is part of a 10-year capital plan of almost $10 billion in spending.

“Regional council is committed to strong, caring, safe communities as realized through four areas of focus: economic vitality, healthy communities, sustainable environment and good government,” Emmerson says. “We’ve faced some strong economic challenges with the cost of inflation and continued COVID-19 recovery, and this budget is strong enough to see us through.”

The 2023 budget supports the activities identified in York Region’s 2023 to 2027 Strategic Plan, which was also approved by council. Strategic Plan highlights include attracting and retaining businesses, growing employment opportunities and attracting a skilled workforce through the expansion of YorkNet fibre network, sustaining and increasing affordable housing choices so more residents receive help to remain stably housed, and improving customer experience by leveraging digital transformation with increasing customer transactions through digital channels and self-serve options.

As part of its commitment to economic vitality, the Region will invest $41.1 million this year to build an additional 708 connections and 296 kilometres of fibre and increasing connectivity in rural and underserved areas. Expenses that fall under ‘healthy communities’ include adding an additional 41 staff to York Regional Police, continuing to implement the Canada-Wide Early Learning Child Care system to reduce the cost of childcare while increasing wages, building community housing units and maintaining the COVID-19 response, which includes managing vaccine supplies and operating clinics.

‘Sustainable environment’ expenses include investing $3.1 billion in water and wastewater infrastructure over the next decade, maintaining high waste diversion rates, planting 70,000 trees and shrubs to reduce the impacts of climate change, and implementing the York Region Transit and Fleet Electrification Plan. Finally, ‘good government’ expenses include leveraging technology to reduce the time it takes to hear and resolve matters in court or before a tribunal.

As part of the budget, the region will invest $12.8 million annually for the next four years to address critical issues related to housing, homelessness, mental health and community investments. Council also endorsed the budget outlook for the remaining three years of the 2023 to 2026 term of office.

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