City of Winnipeg Launches Multi-Year Balanced Budget Process

Released: October 18, 2019 at 10:07 a.m.
Includes greater level of input from all members of Council

Winnipeg, MB – Today, at a special meeting of the Executive Policy Committee, Mayor Brian Bowman and Councillor Scott Gillingham, Chair of the Standing Policy Committee on Finance, will launch the first ever 4 year balanced budget process which builds on improvements from previous budgets and incorporates the first multi-year approach that more actively involves input from all members of Council through the Standing Policy Committees.

“There has been a desire for a greater level of input from all members of Council, and this new process will improve on previous budget processes and allow us to be even more open and transparent with our budgets with all Councillors in a public forum,” said Mayor Bowman. “We want members of the public to have earlier input and all members of Council to shape recommendations for departmental budgets that feed into the overall consolidated draft budgets.”

Four months in advance of the budget being tabled, this process is beginning with a call for collaboration from Councillors, departments, and the public to help guide recommendations to balance the multi-year budgets.

In order to balance the City’s multi-year budgets over the next four years, operational costs for departments will be limited to sustainable targets and capital investments will also be capped. Departments will be asked to prepare their annual operating budgets and capital investment programs using recommended targets for annual adjustments, and will then be asked to make presentations to their respective Standing Policy Committee with suggested options to meet their targets. Members of the public will be invited to appear in delegation after the departments have made their presentations. Once that process has concluded, the Standing Policy Committees will provide multi-year budget recommendations on how the City departments can work within identified expenditure targets.

All recommendations brought forward from the Standing Policy Committees will be forwarded to Executive Policy Committee to consider when preparing the draft operating and capital budgets, as required by law. It is expected the draft operating and capital budgets will be tabled in February 2020 and discussed at Standing Policy Committee meetings through March 2020. The multi-year budget will be voted on by Council before March 31, 2020, as required by law.

“Introducing a four year balanced budget process will help the City with long-term, sustainable planning,” said Councillor Gillingham. “This multi-year balanced budget aims to control expenses, invest in priority services, drive efficiencies, and achieve sustainability and greater certainty for taxpayers, stakeholders and the Federal and Provincial governments.”

City departments are being asked to reach the following expenditure targets in their operating budgets:

2% annual increases (2020-2023)
Winnipeg Police Service
Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service
Water and Waste

1.5% annual increases (2020-2023)
Public Works

0.5% annual increases (2020-2023)
Community Services

All other tax-supported city departments and special operating agencies will be asked to hold their operating budgets steady over the 4 year budget period at the levels approved in the 2019 Operating Budget.

The City’s capital budget is financed by a number of sources such as cash, debt, reserves, provincial and federal transfers, and others. In order to help balance the multi-year operating budgets, the recommended annual cash investment to the capital budget is $20 million instead of the previously forecasted levels of approximately $65 to $70 million annually. This will help bridge the gap in the operating budget by about $45 to $50 million every year. It is recommended the City also limit additional debt funding for capital projects that are not already in the 2019 capital forecast.

The expectation is that property tax increases will continue to be held at 2.33% annually, dedicated to road renewal and Bus Rapid Transit; City fees, charges and rates will only increase at the rate of inflation annually unless explicitly authorized by Council for specific initiatives such as upgrades to the North End Waste Water Treatment Plant.

“Citizen needs and expectations are evolving,” said Councillor Gillingham. “This multi-year balanced budget process provides an opportunity to develop a transformative budget that creates a sustainable financial plan to meet the dynamic needs of a growing city.”

“Creating a multi-year balanced budget will require difficult decisions to be made by Council and we want all members of Council to participate in the discussion from the onset,” said Mayor Bowman.

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