New Winnipeg city budget sees property tax hike, increase in councillors' ward allowances
Published Wednesday, January 9, 2013 11:51AM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 9, 2013 6:32PM CST
The City of Winnipeg tabled its budget Wednesday, which includes a property tax hike of 3.87 per cent and a dedicated fund for road repairs.
The tax increase translates into about $57 more per year for the average home, assessed at $233,000.
The bulk of the increase is needed for emergency services, said Mayor Sam Katz.
"If you look at what we pay for as far as police, ambulance, etc., you can see where the majority of the money is going," said Katz.
The city said police and fire budgets will see an increase of $31.3 million.
One percentage point of the increase will be used for a new street renewal fund and will raise $4.5 million dedicated to fix crumbling streets and bridges.
"We know the local street infrastructure deficit is huge," said Coun. Russ Wyatt, chair of the finance committee.
Wolseley homeowner Joanne Epp said she is willing to pay extra if it means the money will make her ride smoother.
“Three seasons of the year I’m a cyclist so I’ve seen what our roads are like and they need a lot of work,” said Epp.
But not everyone is on board with the property tax hike.
“I do not support a tax increase,” said Coun. Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood - Tuxedo).
Havixbeck, who is part of the mayor’s inner circle, said she can’t support raising taxes while councillors allowances are increasing.
“One of the hardest things I'm having to accept in this budget is how we can be adding 50 per cent more to our councillors’ budgets," said Havixbeck.
Under the city’s budget, councillors will get an additional $40,000 for their ward allowances. Councillors use their allowances to pay for support staff members who communicate with the public and media.
There are also cuts in the budget, including $358,000 in grant money that would have gone to museums and chartable organizations.
“We tried to limit the impact (on) the grants that tend to serve inner city issues,” said Wyatt.
One of the charities affected by grant cuts is Winnipeg Harvest.
The city is trimming $2,000 from a grant for upgrades to the organization’s facility.
"We now have to replace that $2,000 because it's already spent," said David Northcott from Winnipeg Harvest.
The United Way Winnipeg is another group affected by one of the cuts to grants, with it losing out on $40,000. The organization was not ready to comment on Jan. 9.
City officials hope to save almost $900,000 by cutting consulting and advertising fees.
Some new fire hall projects will be delayed a year, including Whytewold, Autumnwood and Kimberly.
The Pembina underpass project at Jubilee will also be delayed a year.