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London councillors to get first look at draft 2020-23 budget on Tuesday

A final multi-year budget for the city is set to be approved in early March 2020. Global News

Tough decisions lie ahead for city council as politicians gear up for their first look at London’s draft multi-year budget.

City staff will table the document on Tuesday afternoon during a meeting of the strategic priorities and policy committee (SPPC).

The budget aims to cover municipal costs between 2020 and 2023. London first adopted a multi-year budgeting process when planning for 2016 to 2019.

READ MORE: 2020 budget could see 4% tax hike for London taxpayers

While Tuesday will be city council’s first look at the draft budget, what’s to come has already made headlines in the past year.

In November, the SPPC heard a report from city staff that predicted the budget would bring a four per cent tax hike in 2020. This would mean an extra $114 for the average London homeowner with a home assessed at $241,000. City staff also projected a 3.2 per cent average annual tax increase over the budget’s four-year timeline.

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This increase was credited to a combination of provincial downloading and many city-funded agencies, boards and commissions submitting higher-than-expected budgets.

The report states provincial downloading in 2020 will add 1.4 per cent to the city budget.

Meanwhile, the 14 agencies, boards and commissions that submit a budget to city hall were given a target of increasing their budget by no more than 1.5 per cent. Eldon House, RBC Place and Tourism London were the only local agencies to meet the target.

READ MORE: Middlesex County defends high Land Ambulance costs in upcoming budget

Tuesday’s meeting won’t provide a firm figure on future tax hikes but instead outline what decisions lie ahead for city council, according to Ward 7 Coun. Josh Morgan.

“We have limited resources and shortages of places to invest them,” said Morgan, who also serves as the city’s budget chair.

“This will really set the stage for that public consultation, which will give council the feedback necessary to make those important decisions.”

While more details will be revealed during Tuesday’s meeting, Morgan says a number of city-funded agencies, boards and commissions have made strides to lessen their burden on the budget.

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“Police have reduced their original budget ask by over $1 million… the [London Public Library] is considering some reductions without reducing their services,” he added.

READ MORE: London Police reduce staffing numbers for budget approval

The introduction of the draft budget on Tuesday marks the start of a months-long process at city hall, with a final budget set to be approved in early March 2020.

In the meantime, the city will be reaching out for public input on the matter, something Morgan sees as vital to the budget process.

Budget open houses will be held on Jan. 11 and 15, 2020 at the Goodwill Industries on Horton Street. Londoners are also invited to a public participation meeting at city hall on Jan. 23.

More details can be found on the city’s website dedicated to receiving public input.

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— With files from Devon Peacock.

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