February 4, 2005

York Region reduces budget proposal to nearly 5 per cent

Budget will contain numerous service enhancements for taxpayers
NEWMARKET York Region's Finance and Administration Committee has asked Regional staff to cap the 2005 Business Plan and Budget to a 5 per cent tax levy, which represents a 4.9 per cent decrease from original budget estimates.  The proposed budget means residents can expect to benefit from service enhancements in several areas, including community policing, capital infrastructure projects, road improvements and public and rapid transit.
Yesterday, the Finance Committee asked Regional staff to re-examine the 5.4 per cent tax levy proposed during the morning's budget meeting and locate an additional 0.4 per cent in reductions representing a further $2 million in savings.
The budget has been re-worked considerably by Regional Council members and staff since the first draft was presented to Council in December 2004.  Council reviewed the draft again at a workshop on January 27th, where the proposed tax levy had been reduced from 8.9 per cent to 6.1 per cent.
"We are working towards a budget that will ensure York Region's taxpayers continue to benefit from increased and enhanced services with minimal impact on their pocketbooks," said Regional Chair and CEO Bill Fisch.  "Developing this budget has been challenging, but Regional Councillors and staff are going the distance to create additional savings in all program areas for our residents while ensuring the services they depend on keep pace with the Region's rate of growth."
The revised Business Plan and Budget will now be forwarded to York Regional Council for consideration on Thursday, February 17th, beginning at 9:30 a.m.
"The York Region budget is much improved from the original draft, and I am confident that we will be able to achieve the 5 per cent target," added Town of Markham Mayor Don Cousens, Finance and Administration Committee Chair.  "I commend the work that all have done during a difficult process.  Not only have we succeeded in reducing the initial tax levy in the budget for individual households, but also managed to find new monies for policing, transit and roads."
With the average assessed residential property of $336,422, the 5 per cent tax levy will mean an additional cost of $79 to homeowners.  However, that increase has now been reduced by $66 from the original budget proposal, and represents less than 22 cents a day per household.
Based on the current draft proposal, services to receive new net dollars in the budget include:
 More than $12 million for York Regional Police Services
 More than $11 million for Viva Rapid Transit
 More than $7 million for York Region Transit (YRT)
 More than $3 million for Roads Transportation
 More than $1.7 million for Solid Waste Management
Meanwhile, numerous budget challenges were raised during the Finance and Administration Committee that continue to seriously affect the Region's budget process, and these budget concerns will be discussed at the February 17th Regional Council.
These concerns relate to Regional Council's advocacy for a new financial deal with the Province of Ontario in the following areas:
 the Province review the GTA pooling program as it relates to the Region's increasing financial contribution to the social assistance and housing programs
 the Province reaffirm its commitment to the cost-sharing agreement for the funding of EMS, both operating and capital expenditures at a 50:50 cost sharing agreement
 the Province enhance funding for transit services operating within the GTA
 the Province immediately remove the cap on its share of the Ontario Works administrative costs and return to a 50:50 cost sharing agreement
 the Province immediately initiate the process to amend the Development Charges Act, 2001 in several key areas
For more information on The Regional Municipality of York, the services we offer and links to our nine area municipalities, please visit our Web site at: www.york.ca

Media Contact:   Patrick Casey, Director, Corporate Communications, York Region
- 905 830-4444, Ext. 1235 or Cell 905 715-8211
- Email: patrick.casey@york.ca

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