The City of Winnipeg’s preliminary operating and capital budget tabled today is balanced, makes record investments in infrastructure, and maintains and invests in key services Winnipeggers have said they need while proposing a modest property tax increase that is entirely dedicated to building and repairing local and regional streets and sidewalks, and investing in the future Southwest Rapid Transitway.
“The budget tabled today is balanced, and builds our city for the future,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “It reflects a disciplined and responsible approach that supports a growing, thriving city, while maintaining and investing in key services Winnipeggers have told us through the budget consultation process that they need.”
“Winnipeggers want continued investment in infrastructure, and the proposed budget reflects this priority. The proposed property tax increase this year is entirely dedicated to infrastructure.”
The 2016 preliminary budget proposes a 2.33 per cent property tax increase, of which 2 per cent will be entirely dedicated to the local and regional street renewal capital programs, and 0.33 per cent is dedicated to payments for the future Southwest Rapid Transitway following through on the multi-year funding plan announced in last year’s budget. This increase means the total capital investment into local and regional streets increases to a record level of $105.2 million this year, almost $2 million more than last year and $21 million more than 2014 representing a 25 per cent increase over the last two years.
“The construction of the Southwest Rapid Transitway is a key, strategic infrastructure investment required to support a more modern public transit network that is essential for a modern, growing city,” said Mayor Bowman.
The 2.33 per cent property tax increase represents about $38 more on an average home assessed at $288,190 in 2016.
“Winnipeg homeowners will continue to have the lowest residential municipal property taxes when compared to other large cities across Canada”, said Finance Chair, Councillor Marty Morantz. “However, revenue sources for the budget remain limited and antiquated. This is why we continue to work with other municipalities to underscore the importance of the provincial government providing municipalities a fair share and a fair say in how provincial infrastructure dollars are invested in our communities.”
The 2016 preliminary budget fulfills the City’s $10 million commitment toward the construction of Freedom Road, an all-weather road for Shoal Lake First Nation #40, by contributing a further $6 million toward the design and construction of the required bridges.
A key change in this year’s preliminary budget is the dedicated use in the capital budget of revenue accrued through frontage levies. The 2016 preliminary budget proposes to increase the frontage levy rate by $1.10 from $4.35 to $5.45 per frontage foot. The annual impact of this change on a 50-foot lot is $55. This year, $10 million of frontage levy revenue is being dedicated directly to fund the bridge renewal program in the capital budget. By proceeding with this approach, frontage levy revenue is invested in capital projects where they have direct impact and general cash to capital can be replaced in the operating budget.
“This is an upfront, open and transparent use of the frontage levy and is consistent with how the Winnipeg Charter mandates that it be used,” said Councillor Morantz.
The 2016 preliminary budget continues to identify administrative efficiencies and tax supported savings that are invested into the renewal of regional streets. This year, the budget identifies $11 million in administrative efficiencies and tax supported savings that are invested directly into the regional streets renewal program. The preliminary budget also maintains the water and sewer dividend this year at the level set in 2015.
While the 2016 preliminary budget is balanced, it forecasts a $51.7 million deficit in 2017 and an $81.9 million deficit in 2018.
“We continue to chip away at a structural deficit that we inherited following many years of property tax freezes,” said Councillor Morantz. “While the 2016 preliminary budget forecasts a challenging fiscal position in future years, we managed to reduce the deficit projected in 2017 by over 50 per cent from $115.2 million to $51.7 million. Moving forward, we need to continue examining responsible and reasonable ways to address the structural deficit while we continue to work with other municipalities to obtain a fair share and a fair say in how provincial infrastructure dollars are invested in our communities.”
For more information on the 2016 Budget, please visit http://www.winnipeg.ca/2016Budget
2016 PRELIMINARY BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS
Infrastructure Investment & Fuelling Economic Growth
Supporting Public Safety, Stronger Neighbourhoods & Community Amenities
Investing in Transit & Transportation
Supporting a City Hall that Works