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Richmond Hill adopts draft budget with 1% tax increase

Council saves costs by pulling ads in The Liberal, adding no jobs, finding efficiencies across all departments.
Jan. 30, 2020
Sheila Wang

Richmond Hill is one step away from turning its vision for low tax hikes into reality.

Council adopted the draft operating budget increase of $1,162,900 and total tax levy of $117,211,700 at the Jan. 28 budget committee of the whole meeting.

It represents a 1-per-cent increase to homeowners' municipal portion of the total property tax bill, which Regional Councillor Joe DiPaola hailed as "the lowest tax increase in the GTA."

Last year, residents in Richmond Hill saw a 2.07-per-cent tax increase, which was the lowest over the previous five years, according to The Liberal.

DiPaola, who chaired the budget meeting, commended city staff for finding cost efficiencies across departments and programs to achieve the low tax hike this year.

The draft budget shows the city has identified about $2.8 million in total savings through reducing costs or staff changes, including over $300,000 spared through staff changes in the public library and more than $100,000 saved by discontinuing regular advertising in The Liberal newspaper.

The city is expected to shift the focus of informing residents of public meetings, development charges and community events from print to online.

Meanwhile, as a majority of council maintained no additional hires across the departments in 2020, Richmond Hill Fire and Emergency Services is not going to be able to hire the four new firefighters it's requested.

Mayor Dave Barrow along with councillors Karen Cilevitz, David West and Godwin Chan, who were in favour of hiring new firefighters, were outvoted by the rest of council.

Council took no action on a staff report that looked at possibilities of increasing council members' salaries at the budget meeting.

The draft budget is up for final adoption at the Feb. 12 council meeting.