Winnipeg homeowners will be paying more in property taxes in 2016.

The city’s newly tabled operating and capital budgets include a 2.33 per cent hike in property taxes.

That adds about $38 more to the average assessed Winnipeg home.

The majority of the increase will be dedicated to fix roads, with 0.33 per cent earmarked for payments to the upcoming Southwest Rapid Transitway.

The increase means the city will sink $105 million into local and regional streets, which is almost $2 million more than 2015.

Frontage levy taxes raised, reallocated

This year’s budget also marks a shift to use frontage levy revenues to fund the city’s bridge renewal program.

The frontage levy rate will be raised by $1.10 per frontage foot, averaging about $55 more on a 50 foot lot.

$10 million of the frontage levy revenues will go towards upgrading the city’s bridges including the Fermor, Saskatchewan and Ness Avenue bridges.

Transit fleet expanded

Winnipeg Transit is also facing higher operating costs in 2016.

The city will sink $25.6 million more this year to keep up with fleet expansion and maintenance.

That money will add 52 new buses to the fleet; 35 of those will replace existing buses, while adding eight for the Transit UPass program.

The city said the UPass program is still on the road to launching in the fall.

New development, variance fees and a 911 charge?

The city is also raising and introducing dozens of fees that will bring in an additional $8 million. The majority of the new levies will impact builders and developers.

Finance committee chair Marty Morantz said a lot of the fees are cost recovery.

“These fees, a lot of them have not been increased for many years,” Morantz said.  

The city is also considering a new 911 fee that would add a flat rate to all phone bills.

“It’s not a fee if someone picks up the phone and calls 911,” Morantz said. “It’s a general fee that would help pay for the cost of 911 services across Winnipeg.”

There will also be a new $250 charge to appeal a decision at city hall.

Waste collection fees are also rising slightly from $56 to $57 a year..

Funding for Freedom Road

The city is also pledging $10 million towards the Freedom Road project, fulfilling an earlier commitment to help build an all-weather road to Shoal Lake 40 First Nation.

Married at City Hall

People can now pay $500 to get hitched at Winnipeg City Hall. The city is expecting to make up to $40,000 on weddings.

Other highlights

  • The business tax rate will be reduced from 5.6 to 5.3 per cent.
  • 5,900 businesses will be taken off the tax rolls with an enhanced rebate program.
  • $2 million will be allocated in a future budget to study the concept of an inner ring road for Winnipeg.
  • $7.5 million will be set aside in 2020 for a library in Waverley West.
  • The city has identified $11.1 in savings that will also go to repairing streets.

Next Steps

The budget was put together by a nine-member working group with input from 2,500 people who participated in budget consultations, both in-person and online.

“I wish to express my deepest appreciation to everyone who contributed their ideas and voices and helped create a responsible and balanced approach to an immense $74 million deficit challenge,” finance committee chair Marty Morantz said in a news release on Feb. 19.

Over the next two weeks, city council committees will hear delegations on various aspects of the budget. To register as a delegation, call 311.

The schedule of meetings to hear delegations is:

  • Friday, March 4: Standing Policy Committee on Water and Waste, Riverbank Management and the Environment
  • Monday, March 7: Standing Policy Committee on Protection and Community Services and Parks
  • Tuesday, March 8: Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development, Heritage and Downtown Development
  • Friday, March 11: Winnipeg Police Board meeting
  • Monday, March 14: Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works
  • Special Executive Policy Committee to hear delegations on budgets