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City of Winnipeg pondering multi-year budgeting

Winnipeg's public service is encouraging the city to switch to a multi-year budgeting process.
Winnipeg's public service is encouraging the city to switch to a multi-year budgeting process. Jeremy Desrochers / Global News / File

The City of Winnipeg is being encouraged to consider switching its budgeting process to a multi-year model.

A report on the matter will be discussed at Executive Policy Committee next week. The public service is recommending the city plan its revenues and expenditures on a four-year cycle, instead of annually.

“Setting out expenditures and revenues for consecutive budgetary years, as opposed to on a 12-month period, will provide citizens with greater long term certainty concerning City taxes and fees, as well as clarity on service levels,” Councillor Scott Gillingham, head of the city’s Finance Committee, said.

“It is also anticipated approving a multi-year budget would significantly decrease the amount of time and resources expended by public service and elected officials in achieving fiscal balance over a longer period of time.”

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The model could be applied to both capital and operating budgets, and has been used at other municipalities in Canada.

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READ MORE: Winnipeg gets a first look at the 2018 city budget Wednesday

Right now, Winnipeg uses a balanced six-year capital program. Council adopts the first year, then forecasts the next five years, revisiting the plan each year.

The report encourages the city to switch to the new budgeting system in 2020.

If put in place, there would be a full budget review the year after a municipal election, meaning the first potential cycle would run from Jan. 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2023.