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Hamilton taxpayers face 2.1 per cent increase this year

A 2.1 per cent residential tax increase is expected this year in Hamilton, once council finalizes the 2021 operating budget on March 31.
A 2.1 per cent residential tax increase is expected this year in Hamilton, once council finalizes the 2021 operating budget on March 31. CHML

It appears that Hamilton’s 2021 residential tax increase will land at 2.1 per cent.

City politicians have voted to forward this year’s operating budget to a March 31 meeting of council for final approval.

General manager of finance Mike Zegarac projects that the city will end the current fiscal year with a projected surplus of almost $49 million, largely because of COVID-19 relief from upper levels of government.

Read more: Some Hamilton councillors speak out against any tax increases in 2021

There was discussion during Wednesday’s general issues committee meeting of potentially using a portion of that surplus to further reduce this year’s tax increase.

But Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger says council has opted to hold that money in reserve, as something of a pandemic security blanket, in the event that it’s needed for future pandemic-related costs.

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He also stresses that this is a “predominantly COVID-related surplus that should be used be utilized for offsetting COVID-related expenses.”

Read more: Hamilton’s forecast of 2020 budget surplus met with a ‘sigh of relief’

Zegarac’s presentation to councillors indicates that Hamilton has received $170 million in COVID-19-related funding from the federal and provincial governments, since the start of the pandemic.

That includes $52 million towards transit and $45 million to address housing issues.

“We’re often critical when they’re not there to assist us,” said Ward 5 Coun. Chad Collins. “We need to highlight those instances where they have been there for Hamilton.”

Collins stresses that “they’ve certainly done that over the past year during very difficult times.”

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