Property tax and fee increases part of Winnipeg’s proposed budget for 2023
For the first time with Mayor Scott Gillingham at the helm of Winnipeg City Hall, a new proposed budget has been tabled for 2023.
This year’s budget puts a wrap on the city’s first-ever multi-year balanced budget, which started in 2020.
Gillingham is following through on one of his campaign promises by increasing property tax by 3.5 per cent.
As in years past, two per cent will go toward road renewal and .33 per cent will finance the Southwest Rapid Transitway.
However, the other 1.17 per cent will support several projects around the city totalling $7.8 million.
Of that $7.8 million, $3.6 million will be used to protect and renew Winnipeg’s tree canopy – this brings the total investment for the canopy to $26.3 million.
Another $1.1 million will increase the operating budget for 311 by 25 per cent from last year, which will be used to recruit new staff, as well as retain those already employed.
The city will use $1 million to support additional 24/7 safe spaces and another $1 million to increase transit service to bring it back to its full-service capacity.
Neighbourhood action teams will start to be established with an investment of $450,000. These teams will “complement the services provided by Public Works and other city departments.”
The operating grant for the Winnipeg Arts Council will be restored by providing $400,000 and $250,000 will be used for the operations of the Downtown Community Safety Partnership.
On top of the property tax increase, the Frontage Levy will jump $1.50 per foot – $5.45 to $6.95.
The revenue from the property tax spike plus the levy means the average single-family homeowner will be paying $142 more in 2023.
As part of the increased revenue from the Frontage Levy, $2.8 million of it will also go toward the planning of the Chief Peguis Trail extension and Kenaston Boulevard widening. Options will be looked at including public-private partnerships.
Sticking with roads, there is an increased investment to road renewals by $18.9 million over the 2022 forecast, of that, $8 million more will be for active transportation. The total budget for roads is around $156 million.
Transit safety is also a topic in the budget with $5 million being used for a transit security team. Mayor Gillingham says he doesn’t envision the members being armed but would have some powers of arrest.
RAINY DAY FUND
Before the pandemic, the city’s rainy day fund was sitting at around $100 million, but due to increased spending brought on by COVID-19, the fund has dropped to $5.2 million.
To get more money in the fund, the city will be putting in a one-time transfer of $15 million, which is coming from the retained earnings of the waterworks utility.
Even with the transfer, the city said it is still below the council-mandated six per cent of tax-supported operating expenses. The city said Public Works will need to provide recommendations later in 2023 or as part of the 2024 multi-year budget on how to continue to replenish the fund.
The city will be adding new fees, as well a number of existing fees are increasing above inflation, which will total $2.5 million.
Those who own animals or are looking to adopt will notice a jump. The licenses for cats will go up from $52 to $61 and dogs will climb from $80 to $123.
When adopting dogs, those over four months will now cost $245, up from $183 and puppies under four months will be $280 each, compared to the previous $219.
If fire crews are required to attend a personal care home or assisted living facility to provide an assisted lift, the facility will be charged depending on how many crew members attend.
For a two-person crew, it will cost $1,400 per hour and a four-member crew will create a bill of $2,601 per hour.
For the first time, the city will be charging movie and TV crews when they film in Winnipeg. Depending on the size of the production, it could cost anywhere from $250 to $2,500.
Garbage collection will also see an increase due to inflation. It cost each household $67 in 2022 and now in 2023, it will be $69 per household.
MONEY FOR COUNCILLOR’S OFFICES
Councillors have been calling for a bump in their ward allowances to better serve people – in 2022 they received $84,924.
They will get an increase up to $136,649 for 2023.
Councillor’s executive assistants will also receive pensions and other benefits as part of an increase to salaries and benefits, which totals nearly $836,000.
OTHER CAPITAL PROJECTS
There is $850,000 for a new feasibility study of the Arlington Street Bridge. There is currently no money to build a new bridge and the structure was supposed to be decommissioned in 2020. The study will determine what improvements can be done to keep it in use for another 25 years until a new one can be constructed or other crossings can be upgraded.
The North Bus Garage Replacement is now expected to cost $155.9 million.
The city is also working to convert its bus diesel fleet to electric and hydrogen fuel cell buses for budget years 2023 to 2028. It will be $267.8 million.
The city is also budgeting $12.6 million to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Winnipeg by starting work on the restoration of the former archives building at 380 William Avenue. Another $2 million will is going to design work for a new East of the Red RecPlex.
The preliminary budget will be reviewed at Standing Policy Committee meetings starting on March 3 and council will debate the budget on March 22.
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