London 2020-23 budget talks resume at city hall

London councillors will convene at city hall on Tuesday afternoon as talks on the city’s upcoming multi-year budget resume.

The budget aims to cover costs between 2020 and 2023, and a finalized version of the document is set to arrive by early March.

At Tuesday’s meeting, which will see council convene as the strategic priorities and policy committee, councillors will discuss public feedback along with business cases from city staff that aim to provide breathing room for a tight budget.

City staff project the upcoming multi-year budget will bring an average annual tax hike of at least 3.2 per cent for Londoners between 2020 and 2023.

For a Londoner with a home value assessed at $241,000, a 3.2 per cent increase would tack on an extra $94 per year in property taxes. The highest projected tax hike is 4.5 per cent, which would tack on an extra $138 for a Londoner with the same home.

In an effort to reduce tax levy pressures, city staff are presenting nine business cases during Tuesday’s meeting for councillors to consider.

One case includes the elimination of London’s curbside Christmas tree collection, a cut that city staff say could save about $120,000. Other cases include doing away with a plan to increase staffing and security personnel for the London Public Library, which would save nearly $150,000, according to city staff.

Tax levy pressures will be a guiding factor for Ward 6 Coun. Phil Squire as he and fellow councillors wade through a sea of tough decisions.

“By that, I mean a rate where we are going to not affect the good things that we are doing in the City of London, whether that’s building housing and development.”

The city has a number of events on the way that aim to gauge public opinion on pending budget requests. Events conducted in 2019 and the feedback they gathered will also be discussed during Tuesday’s meeting.

Squire added that this feedback will be crucial for council’s decisions.

Key dates for the events at which Londoners will have a chance to voice their opinion on the budget can be found on the city’s website.

Those events include a pair of open houses slated for Saturday and next Wednesday, along with a public participation meeting at city hall on Jan. 23.

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