Winnipeg, MB - Council voted today to adopt the 2019 preliminary operating and capital budgets for the City of Winnipeg by a vote of 11-5.
“Despite some challenges, this year’s budget does a lot of good things for our city,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “I am pleased Council voted today to adopt the preliminary budget, and look forward to working with Council and the public service to implement the budget over the coming year.”
“This year’s budget faced a lot of challenges, but represents a responsible financial blueprint for the year,” said Councillor Scott Gillingham (St. James), Chair of the Standing Policy Committee on Finance. “It also lays the groundwork for Council to consider a multiyear budget next year, and I look forward to working with all Councillors as well as residents to begin prioritizing and planning beyond just a single year.”
The Mayor said this year’s budget process was complicated by uncertainty with respect to the level of provincial capital funding that would be provided to the City of Winnipeg. This ongoing uncertainty resulted in this year’s regional and local road program budget being the lowest since 2014.
The adopted 2019 budget is balanced. No new fees or charges are introduced in the budget. Water and sewer rates are not increased. The frontage levy rate is not increased. On-street parking rates are also not increased.
The adopted budget limits operating expenditure increases to 3.9 percent when compared to last year’s budget. It also limits property tax increases to 2.33 percent and dedicates the entire increase to Winnipeg’s infrastructure requirements.
The 2019 adopted budget also includes:
- The highest level of funding to the police department in the history of the city – now $301 million;
- A 4.2 percent increase to the fire paramedic service;
- More than $400,000 to enhance snow clearing on the city’s growing, active transportation network;
- A freeze on transit fares;
- Purchase of new transit buses to improve system reliability;
- Introduction of a low income bus pass – a first for Winnipeg;
- Improved accessibility of bus stops;
- Improved safety measures for transit drivers and riders;
- More heated bus shelters;
- $1 million investment toward electrification of the city’s bus fleet;
- $100,000 to support Council in planning for multiyear budgets;
- Funding to support staffing increases in Urban Forestry Technical Services;
- An investment of up to $3 million in 2020 to renovate and renew Rainbow Stage;
- A review of the use of Special Operating Agency dividends;
- A decrease in the water and sewer dividend rate;
- A lower business tax rate; and
- Millions in capital support to address combined sewer overflows.
The 2019 adopted budget also includes recommendations to help prepare the city to transition toward multiyear budgets beginning with the 2020 budget year. With the adoption of the 2019 budget, the public service has been tasked with bringing to Council a report with the following information:
- An analysis of the city’s core service responsibilities under The City of Winnipeg Charter and any other relevant legislation;
- A plan to introduce an evaluation framework to review current and future city grants;
- A review of the city’s current fees and charges; and
- A review of the city’s unfunded capital projects.