Budget 2015: City proposes balanced budget for 2015
Winnipeg, MB – Today the City of Winnipeg presented a balanced, Preliminary Budget for 2015 that will maintain and increase spending in priority areas, despite revenue challenges resulting from the legacy of 14 years of property tax cuts and freezes.
“The City is faced with a growing gap between revenue and the spending required to help maintain and modernize our growing, thriving city,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “In this budget environment, our challenge is to be able to dedicate record levels of funding to key priorities, like street renewal, while keeping tax increases just as low as possible.”
The 2015 Preliminary Budget proposes a 2.3 per cent property tax increase tied to the rate of inflation, of which 2 per cent will be entirely dedicated to the local and regional street renewal capital program. In total, this will allow the City to triple its 2012 investment in street renewal with $103.3 million in 2015 alone, an increase of $19.1 million more than in 2014.
“A critical component in moving forward is that Winnipeg must step up its fight to gain a fair share of the PST,” said the Mayor. “On the national stage, we’re already part of a large coalition of municipalities who understand that, for decades, Canada’s largest cities have been chronically underfunded by provincial governments. That’s got to change.”
“The good news in this preliminary budget is that Winnipeg will still have the lowest residential municipal property taxes when compared to other large cities across Canada”, said Finance Chair, Councillor Marty Morantz. “The proposed property tax increase will result in homeowners paying $37 more per year or 10 cents more per day on the average home.”
Other highlights of the 2015 Preliminary Budget include:
A Leap Forward in Managing Traffic Flows
Winnipeg will take full advantage of new traffic management technologies by establishing its first ever Transportation Management Centre (TMC). Once operational by the end of 2016, the TMC will become the primary source of traffic information through the use of social media, smartphones and traveller information boards. It will be funded by $3.5 million annually in the Operating Budget, once fully implemented, and $3 million in 2015-2016, from the Capital Budget.
Fuelling Economic Growth
To support the engine of business that fuels our economy, the proposed budget decreases the City’s business tax rate from 5.7 to 5.6 percent. It will enhance the small business tax credit program to provide 6,025 or nearly half of all Winnipeg businesses with a full rebate when they have an annual rental value of $30,000 or less, up from 5,147 businesses in 2014.
Supporting Public Safety
To support the Winnipeg Police Service and its ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of Winnipeggers, the Preliminary Budget proposes an increase of $4.9 million for a total allocation of $264 million. The Fire Paramedic Service budget will also increase by $10.5 million to $178.3 million for a total investment between the services that comprises 44.5% of the total tax supported budget.
Moving Forward with Rapid Transit
To move forward with Rapid Transit, the budget offers solutions to allow Phase 2 of the Southwest Transitway/Pembina Highway Underpass to proceed. It provides a sustainable, multi-year funding plan for the next stages of building a more modern public transit network that will drive our economy and serve a growing, thriving city.
Investing in our Community
New and ongoing strategic initiative investments proposed in this Preliminary Operating Budget include projects and programs aimed at strengthening Winnipeg as a vibrant and caring community, including investments to help reduce homelessness, increases to civic museums and arts funding, maintaining the Aboriginal Youth Strategy, funding for 100% biological larviciding to manage mosquito populations, a commitment to a downtown dog park, and financial support for Assiniboine Park, as examples.
This proposed budget includes a $1 million Innovation Capital Fund. This fund will provide investment for the best ideas for improved efficiency, service delivery and responsiveness in City operations.
“Our ongoing financial challenges will only be met if everyone at the City of Winnipeg seeks out new and innovative approaches to delivering priority services,” said Mayor Bowman. “Winnipeggers are counting on us to do nothing less.”
The 2015 Budget builds on the City’s long-term plan to grow a modern, thriving city with quality of life improvements for all Winnipeggers that include renewal of our infrastructure, and a focus on creating a safe and vibrant community we are all proud to call home.
For more information on the 2015 Budget, please visit Winnipeg.ca/2015Budget