February 27, 2019 10:53 am
Updated: February 27, 2019 8:16 pm

Bowman hints at higher-than-expected property tax increase, decreased roads spending

WATCH: Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said Wednesday a tax increase higher than originally proposed may be needed to offset provincial government funding shortfalls.

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The city budget is being tabled Friday and Winnipeg’s mayor hinted a higher-than-expected property tax increase is on the way.

Mayor Brian Bowman told 680 CJOB’s The Start Wednesday that a funding freeze from the province means “difficult decisions” had to be made.

“There are various options that have had to be considered, to make up the gap in the 2018 budget, a variety of things had to be considered,” he said.

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READ MORE: Winnipeg delays tabling of city budget

“One of which is increased debt, one of which is less capital being spent, which compromises our ability to build Winnipeg for the future, and the other would be tax increases.

“So that decision will be tabled on Friday and debated and then council will have its say.”

When asked if property taxes will increase, Bowman demurred.

“What I’ll say, you’ll need to wait until Friday,” he told 680 CJOB.

“What I campaigned on was limiting tax increases to 2.33 per cent unless there was incremental cuts from the provincial government.”

Later in the day told reporters that “a property tax increase in the range of 7.1 per cent would be needed to back fill possible decreases in provincial capital support.”

He did not say the increase was a sure thing, but rather one option available to the city.

Delay

The city delayed the tabling of the capital and operating budgets by one month “to get additional information” about funding from the Province, and Bowman said they have since received that information.

“There’s a lot more questions that we have regarding some of the information that’s been provided very recently,” he said.

A stumbling block is that the Province, Bowman said, is trying to direct how their funding dollars are spent — for the previous fiscal year.

“So that’s a challenge. As you know it is 2019, 2018 has come and gone, the City budget was passed in December of 2017.

“Money was expended significantly on roads and other matters and that year is closed out. And so to be discussing how provincial dollars should be allocated and spent … to have that discussion in 2019 is just, it’s really not a best practice.”

The relationship between the province and the city has been a rocky one in recent years, with Bowman complaining that it’s easier to get a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau than Premier Brian Pallister, and Pallister shooting back that he will not conduct his scheduling through the media.

Bowman said the budget tabled on Friday is balanced and that he’s looking forward to tabling it and the debate that will follow.

RELATED: ‘We can do better’: Brian Bowman challenges Pallister

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