It’s that time of year when city hall goes through its annual exercise of the city budget, this time proposing a property tax hike of 1.7 per cent.

The Region of Peel has already approved its budget, which means its portion of the property tax is guaranteed to increase by one per cent. Combined, Brampton residents may be paying an extra 2.7 per cent, which works out to $4,857 for an average household in the city.

The 2018 operating budget for the city is $678 million, and is directly supported by taxes and user fees (recreation registrations, transit fares, etc). Of that total, approximately 58 per cent goes to labour. The rest goes to fuel, utilities, rent, marketing, etc. There will be approximately 107 new staff members added next year, primarily to transit (62 new positions) followed by fire and emergency services (20 new positions).

The 2018 capital (construction) budget is $258 million, with 41 per cent going to Public Works, 37 per cent to Community Services, 12 per cent to Transit, and the rest to other city departments. 12 per cent of the capital budget is directly supported by taxes, with other funds contributing. For example, the Federal Gas Tax supports 11.8 per cent of the city’s capital budget, almost enough to cover transit projects.

City budget 2018 breakdown. Unlike other forms of government, cities and regions are not allowed to run deficits.

Similar to last year’s budget, the big increases are primarily to buy new buses and operate them for Brampton Transit, and for the fire department to buy new trucks, equipment, hire new firefighters, and to build a brand new fire campus with an emergency operations centre and new headquarters. The budget confirms that the Züm Airport Road expansion will only connect to Malton GO, despite former opportunities to connect directly to the airport. There will be 19 new buses (both Züm and regular) on the road, as well as the new electric buses. Transit riders will be facing a transit fare increase next year, and possibly in 2019 and 2020, as defined by lines in the budget for new revenue.

Three of the five big requests this year are brand new, and are in response to new and ongoing initiatives. For example, city council approved spending $50 million over 10 years for a new post-secondary campus, as well as up to $100 million for a joint innovation centre and new central library to be shared with Ryerson.

Another request is for up to $30 million to support the new downtown streetscaping project that will go ahead in conjunction with Region of Peel water main work in the Four Corners area.

However, unlike last year’s budget, this year’s proposes several new capital projects for Community Service. This is likely a result of the recently completed Recreation Master Plan. Several community and recreation centres in Bramalea are old and falling apart, and the new budget outlines plans to rehabilitate several of them.

There are plans to start expanding and renovating Balmoral, Chris Gibson, Howden, and Loafer’s Lake in 2018, in addition to building a brand new community centre in east Brampton for $12.6 million.

This is in addition to opening phase two of Gore Meadows in 2018, and an overhaul and rebranding of the Brampton Soccer Centre in 2019. New artificial turf fields, as well as a dome, will begin construction at the Brampton Soccer Centre next year.

The new Springdale Library, which was initially proposed to open in the summer of 2016, and then was pushed to 2017, has been pushed back again and will now be opening to the public to January 2018. However, plans for an interim branch in southwest Brampton near Mississauga Road and Financial Drive will open next year, along with increased STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) programming in existing branches, and a mobile library van.

Castlemore Road widening will start next year, between McVean and Goreway, as well as to widen Humberwest Parkway between Williams Parkway and Exchange Dr.

Noise wall construction on Williams Parkway from McLaughlin to North Park will also start.

The budget plan is available online here, at 361 pages. This article only covers the 2018 portion of the budget, as plans can and do change.

There are several community town halls and budget talks available for residents to attend next week. More details here.

The final budget meeting, where council will approve it, is on December 13 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.