WINNIPEG —; Winnipeggers are going to have to shell out more money in taxes.
The City of Winnipeg is asking for a 2.33 per cent property tax increase and a hike in frontage levy fees.
The city’s preliminary 2016 operating capital budgets was presented to the Executive Policy Committee on Wednesday afternoon, and there are some increases in the mix that could have a big impact on Winnipeg homeowners.
Property tax increase
If passed, homeowners are going to have to pay an average of $38 more on their property tax.
The city is hoping the increase will support road repair and payments for the future of the Southwest Rapid Transit.
Two per cent will go towards the local and regional street renewal capital programs, and 0.33 per cent is dedicated to payments for the rapid transit.
READ MORE: Past property tax hikes in Winnipeg, and a pre-budget breakdown
The increase means the city will spend $105 million into local and regional streets, which is almost $2 million more than 2015.
“Every cent of the proposed property tax increase it put directly into infrastructure and rapid transit,” Mayor Brian Bowman said at City Hall Wednesday.
The 2.33 per cent increase is staying with the rate of inflation, Bowman said. This is because during the 2014 mayoral race, Brian Bowman campaigned on holding property tax hikes to the rate of inflation.
Frontage levy hike
However, homeowners will see a rise in their frontage levy fees, with the 60 cent per foot increase adding up to $55 per year for an average 50-foot lot. That’s an $85 increase over the last two years.
The city said the increase in frontage levy fees will bring in about $13 million, with $3 million going to road repairs and $10 million to going towards bridge repair work.
“The money raised goes into infrastructure, so it’s something people can see; its tangible,” Finance Chair, Councilor Marty Morantz said. “And that’s what people are telling us, they want their roads fixed. “
Budget calls for new fees and services
The city also introduced dozens of new fees related to development and building variances, which it said is due to “cost recovery”. This could bring up to $8 million for the city.
There is also discussions of a 9-11 fee, which would be added to people’s telephone bills. The fee is not implemented, and the policy is only under consideration, Councillor Morantz said. It would be added onto a monthly phone bill if put through.
“This is a general fee that would apply across the board on phone bills that would help pay for the cost of 9-11 services,” he said.
In terms of service reductions, Morantz said he isn’t “aware that there are any impacts on services.”
Another change to the budget, Winnipeggers can now get hitched at city hall. The city is proposing to allow people to have a civil marriage ceremony conducted for them at city hall, which will cost couples $500.
Business tax rate dropping
Winnipeg’s business tax rate is being reduced from 5.6 per cent to 5.3 per cent.
The preliminary budget also calls for an increase to the number of businesses that can access the small business tax credit. Mayor Bowman said this will affect nearly 6,000 businesses,
More cash for transit
The city is spending $25.6 million more this year to keep up with transit expansion and maintenance.
This means 52 new buses will be added, with 35 of those replacing existing buses, and eight scheduled for the the Transit UPass program (which launches this fall).
Other 2016 budget highlights
$280.7 million going towards the Winnipeg Police Service, which is $16.7 more than last year.$190.1 million to the Fire Paramedic Service budget, which is $11.8 million more than 2015.$100,000 is going towards a “ downtown off-leash dog park master plan”.Local sidewalk renewal increased from $1.6 million to $2.4 million.The city is putting $6 million toward the $10 million Freedom Road commitment.$1.75 million is going towards the Aboriginal Youth Strategy.$750,00 spending on the 2017 Canada Summer Games.$7 million to Winnipeg Arts Council Funding.$1 million spent on the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Inuit Art Centre.
After the tabling of the budgets on Wednesday, the schedule of meetings to hear delegations and consider the preliminary 2016 Operating and Capital budgets include:
Friday, March 4, 2016
Standing Policy Committee on Water and Waste, Riverbank Management and the Environment
Monday, March 7, 2016
Standing Policy Committee on Protection and Community Services and Parks
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development, Heritage and Downtown Development
Friday March 11, 2016
Winnipeg Police Board Meeting
Monday, March 14, 2016
Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Special Executive Policy Committee to hear delegations on Budgets
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Executive Policy Committee to consider Standing Policy Committee recommendations and table final recommendations
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Special Meeting of Council to pass Budgets