As we hit the mid-term mark of our current Council, we are pleased to have just adopted the 2017 budget. I would like to sincerely thank you – our community – for actively engaging in this year’s budget process. We asked you to ‘put your money where it matters’ through an interactive budget game to learn more about the services and programs that are most important to our citizens. We received feedback from more than 500 residents at various community events and via our website and social media channels, which is more than double the participation from the 2016 budget. This type of feedback is invaluable as we go through the budget cycle and make important decisions that will shape the future of our town.
The 2017 budget is largely about looking forward and finding reductions that have the least amount of impact on service levels. Each year, we work closely with staff over many months to deliver a budget that balances our current needs with our future sustainability.
Responsible financial management is a key component of the current budget. The Town continues to move towards a ‘user pay’ system to create a fair and equitable balance between what the users pay for programs and services and how much is drawn from the tax base. This means that a higher percentage of the costs are recovered from the users. This year the introduction of a new stormwater charge helped to decrease property taxes. By removing amounts for stormwater from the tax bill and implementing a separate charge, it saves the average resident approximately $12. The stormwater charge lessens the burden on residential property owners by shifting the fees to the properties that produce the most runoff (i.e. commercial and industrial properties) that will pay a larger stormwater charge. Visit newmarket.ca/stormwatercharge for more information and to estimate what your stormwater charge is.
We are also taking a close look at how we manage and plan for growth and reevaluating how we do things to ensure long-term sustainability. To put it simply, we are saving money today for the Newmarket of tomorrow. Other highlights of the 2017 budget include:
- Continuation of the town wide phase-in sidewalk snow-clearing program
- Additional traffic management initiatives
- Marketing strategy for the Davis and Yonge Street Corridors
- Additional bike lanes
- Continued implementation of the Recreation Playbook
- Renovations and upgrades to Town facilities
- More support for Emerald Ash Borer
We look forward to many new and innovative initiatives in 2017. Time and time again, we have heard through our community survey that 84 per cent of residents feel they are receiving fair value for their taxes and 95 per cent are satisfied living in Newmarket. It is our goal to continue to plan for our bright future, while providing the high level of programs and services that make Newmarket one of the most desirable places to live in the country.