Kitchener property tax increase of less than 1 per cent approved by council

The front entrance of Kitchener City Hall. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

Kitchener council approved the 2021 budget on Monday night in a move it says will have residents facing their lowest property tax increase in more than a decade.

Residents will see their tax bills adjusted .94 per cent, which the city says will work out to $33 for the average household with that number including tax, water and gas bills.

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“Council and staff have worked hard over many years to approve responsible budgets and that has helped ensure our 2021 budget reflects a responsible approach to responding to the realities of Covid-19,” Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic said in a release.

“The budget we approved today not only maintains valued programs and services for our community but also ensures we build back better through strategic priorities such as our new Equity, Anti-Racism & Indigenous Initiatives team, investments in active transportation and our Make It Kitchener 2.0 economic development strategy.”

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The city says it kept the increase low in an attempt to “mitigate the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The decision to keep taxes low also meant that a number of cost-saving measures were to be undertaken as the city has also seen revenue shrink due to the pandemic.

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It says it has had to delay $21 million in capital projects, freeze discretionary spending and lay off staff. The size of those layoffs has been fluid as needs changed during the pandemic.

Kitchener also provided a summary of rate changes, which shows the increase plus the effect on the average household, including a .94 per cent property tax increase ($11 annually), a water utilities increase of 0.9 per cent  ($11 annually) and a gas bill increase of 1.5 per cent ($11 annually).

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