City of Winnipeg proposes property tax increase in face of financial pressures

City of Winnipeg officials say as they prepare the 2024-2027 Multi-Year Balanced Budget, the city is facing heavy financial pressures. To help, it proposes a 3.5 per cent property tax increase.

Mayor Scott Gillingham said this is a modest increase compared to some other Canadian cities, which have proposed increases between 6.04 per cent (Saskatoon, Sask.) and 9.7 per cent (Halifax, N.S.).

Gillingham and chair of the Finance Committee, Councillor Jeff Browaty, said a focus on cost control and ensuring value for money are taking top priority.

The pair said the City’s Budget Working Group is “planning for tough decisions,” which will be swayed by several factors including inflation, labour costs, and the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

Inflation

“Inflation has led to increased costs across the board, from infrastructure projects to basic services,” said Browaty.

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City officials said the cost of police cruisers and renting vehicles has doubled, snow clearing contracts are up 24 per cent, and there has been an eight per cent increase for water treatment chemicals.

Water treatment chemicals alone add “another $4 million in costs,” but does not compare to the escalated costs of infrastructure projects, Winnipeg said.

For example, “the new biosolids facility at the North End Water Pollution Control Centre,” it said, “has seen cost estimates escalate from $552.7 million to over $1 billion.”

Labour Costs

More on Money

Browaty said even though he is grateful for working Winnipeggers, “the increase in labour costs adds an additional demand on our budget.”

In a media release, the city cited new contacts with various unions have resulted in necessary but challenging commitments.

Pandemic Aftermath

COVID-19 scarred Winnipeg financially.

Gillingham said, “We had to absorb over $240 million in unexpected costs and lost revenue during the pandemic, severely depleting our reserves.” He said this makes it harder to put money into new projects without sizeable monetary repercussions.

“We understand the difficulties ahead and the impact of these decisions on our citizens,” the mayor said. “We remain committed to maintaining essential services and making strategic new investments, but we must also be realistic about our fiscal limitations.”

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City council approves Winnipeg’s 2023 budget

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