Whitby launches 2023 budget consultation

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Published May 31, 2022 at 4:38 pm

Whitby residents can start to weigh in on the services and local priorities most important to them for next year’s budget through the Town’s new feedback page.

Every year town administration undergoes an extensive budget consultation and development process to ensure public feedback informs the projects and services they will pursue the following year.

The consultation for the 2022 budget began earlier and ran longer than the preceding year. This allowed some 2000 people to engage and share their thoughts. As of this writing, a day after opening, 102 people have engaged so far.

Starting May 30, residents can sign onto ConnectWhitby for access to a budget tool. This extensive survey collects anonymous personal details such as age, residential details (own/rent), income, education and marital and parenthood status.

Then, residents can rank how they feel about local services, tax rates, living affordability and the Town’s stated priorities. The 2022 consultation found that Whitby residents were broadly happy with their services with 75 per cent reporting a “good” or “excellent” quality of life.

The survey moves on to a property tax assessment. Residents input their property value then design an ideal municipal budget. As the budget changes, the breakdown of the tax bill changes in real time. This change informs residents if their proposal remains balanced or not.

The Federal and Provincial governments take the vast majority of taxes, with nine per cent remain at the municipal level. The breakdown of that municipal nine per cent sends 52 per cent to Durham Region, 34 per cent to Whitby and 13 per cent to the school boards.

Out of the 34 per cent for the town;

  • 34.7 per cent goes to Transportation and Operations
  • 32.1 per cent to Safety, Fire and Emergency Services,
  • 30.5 per cent to Community Services, and
  • 1.4 per cent to Economic Development, and
  • 1.3 per cent to Community Planning and Development.

The budget tool allows residents to provide input on this breakdown by allocating funds in their ideal budget. Residents can also comment on their concerns with each department about how they’d like to see them improve.

Last year residents said they wanted the town to prioritize attracting more local jobs, continuing the revitalization of the downtowns, and creating more green spaces, among other ideas.

The 2022 consultation found fewer than half of Whitby residents were happy with their tax bill, but as said, were happy with the services the bill paid for.

In the most recent Zoocasa tax bill ranking from 2021, Whitby came in 17th of 35 polled towns and cities in Ontario. This ranking put them as the second highest in Durham Region behind only Oshawa.

Both Oshawa and Whitby hiked taxes last year. Whitby homeowners paid $40 a year more in 2022 than in 2021, a roughly two percent jump.

Reasons for the jump include a rise in population requiring services and the need for investments in staffing to grow the town’s workforce, described by Chief Administrative Officer Matt Gaskell as “very lean.”

The 2023 budget consult period runs until July. Following the closure, town staff will review the findings and present them to a  brand new council in November following October’s municipal election.

In January staff will present a budget proposal to this new council who, following another feedback session, will decide on 2023’s budget in February.

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