Winnipeg’s 2024 budget aims to address pandemic debt

Click to play video: 'Winnipeggers can expect to pay more with proposed city budget'
Winnipeggers can expect to pay more with proposed city budget
The draft edition of the city's multi-year budget is out. Marney Blunt breaks it down and looks at where you'll be spending more – Feb 7, 2024

The City of Winnipeg has released its preliminary 2024 budget with total estimated spending of $2.2 billion, including an annual property tax increase of 3.5 per cent throughout the next four years.

For the average homeowner with a home valued at $338,900, that increase equals approximately $69 a year or 19 cents a day.

Annually, it equates to property taxes over the next four years of approximately $2,107 in 2025, $2,181 in 2026, and $2,257 in 2027. The city says, as previously promised, two per cent of the increase in 2024 will be dedicated to road repairs.

Additionally, the city addressed cost pressures exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The financial stabilization reserve had been completely depleted during the pandemic and at the end of 2023, the reserve was still below $10 million.

Transit was also noted as an added cost-pressure due to low ridership following the pandemic, cuts to provincial grants in 2017 and changing ridership patterns.

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The 2024-27 budget is proposing four new revenue measures to offset the added cost pressures, including fee increases to catch up with inflation. Over the next four years, fees will increase by five per cent each year in 2024 and 2025, and then 2.5 per cent annually in 2026 and 2027.

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Transit fees will be going up by 10 cents at the start of each calendar year over the next four years.

The accommodations tax is also increasing by one per cent. The accommodation tax, introduced in 2008, is a five per cent tax on accommodations like hotels and motels within the city.

The city says the increase to the accommodations tax will fund increased city beautification efforts, safety efforts, and a top-up to the special events marketing fund.

Another increase Winnipeggers can expect to see is on their phone bill as the new budget is proposing a new 911 charge of $1 per month on phones registered to Winnipeg addresses. 100 per cent of which will go towards 911 capital and operating costs.

The city says cost increases to operate Winnipeg’s 911 system are in the millions, and the cost of mandatory improvements for Next-Generation 911 are projected at over $10 million.

That service will allow 911 callers to send video or photos of an incident in progress to police, or forward medical information to assist emergency responders. That fee will come into effect on July 1. The revenue from the additional fee is projected at an estimated $7 million a year.

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Additionally, the city says it will follow up on upgrades to Kenaston Boulevard and extending Chief Peguis Trail, fixing the Arlington Bridge and potential costs for repairing the Portage and Main concourse. These plans are not currently included in the preliminary budget.

The budget is set to go through a review process at the committee meeting next month, followed by a review by council on March 20.

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