Windsor Council Approves 0% Tax Increase for 2021
Windsor is holding the line on taxes for 2021.
After nearly 11 hours of discussion, council unanimously approved the budget with a 0% tax increase with a $38-million shortfall due to COVID-19 challenges.
The budget includes record investments in affordable housing and transit as well as just over $170-million in capital project to be carried out in 2021.
Councillor Fabio Costante says, at a time of uncertainty, holding the line is the best option.
"There's a lot of question marks. We don't know what we don't know. We don't know if we're going to go into a third wave. We don't know if these COVID variants are going to pick up steam and are going to outpace vaccines. And we don't know how deeply affected our economy is."
Ward 3's Rino Bortolin says it's been tough to support a 0% budget in the past, but this year made sense.
"In years past, I've never been ideologically tied to a 0% increase. This year came around and I definitely felt compelled to ease the burden on taxpayers, mostly for the groups tied to small business owners and those who currently are renting."
Councillor Chris Holt says, while he may not like holding the line, it needed to be done.
"I don't want to be the dollar store of municipalities. These budget documents, it was the right thing to do during a global pandemic which requires some constraint. I am more than happy to support this budget with that constraint."
Ward 8 councillor Gary Kaschak says he's pleased with all the positive things included in the budget.
"Improvements to transit, improvements to parks, improvements to community and affordable housing, bylaw enforcement improvements. So lots of good things that happened here today for the residents of the city and, at the same time, we were able to keep it at a 0% budget increase."
Councillor Kieran McKenzie says the community showed big interest in this budget.
"The delegates and the young people who came to delegate and to speak on issues that were important to them. I really love Windsor and we saw Windsor in an incredibly wonderful way. We saw many of its people who are trying to do everything that they can to make this community a great place."
Jim Morrison is the councillor for Ward 10 and says he's feeling optimistic heading into the future.
"I've seen Windsor downtrodden and in worse shape than what we're dealing with today. Yes, this is uncertain what we're dealing with, but I do sense that there's some optimism here going forward. This is not a 0% budget by any means that we're just going to not do anything."
If upper levels of government don't cover the city's $38-million COVID-19 shortfall, mayor Drew Dilkens says it could have a major impact on the 2022 budget resulting in as much as a 9% tax increase.
There's no word yet when municipalities can expect to hear about additional funding relief.