Winnipeg, MB – Today, the preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets for the City of Winnipeg were tabled at a special Executive Policy Committee meeting, marking a historic and transformative step for our City by providing Winnipeg residents and businesses with a plan for the next four years.
The new multi-year balanced budget process has been more open and transparent than previous annual budget processes and has provided greater opportunity for active involvement of all members of Council, community organizations, the public, and the Public Service. The process began four months ahead of today’s tabling of the preliminary multi-year balanced budgets and today marks the continuation of this open and transparent review process.
“As other levels of government struggle to balance their budgets one year at a time, we are presenting balanced operating budgets for each of the next four consecutive years,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “The preliminary 2020-2023 multi-year balanced budgets present a responsible plan that strikes the right balance between fiscal and environmental sustainability while making investments in key services and infrastructure that will build our growing city for the future.”
At the start of the multi-year balanced budget process, the City was facing an operating deficit of $89.6 million in the tax-supported budget for 2020 that was projected to increase to $174.9 million by 2023.
In October 2019, the Executive Policy Committee endorsed a framework to balance the budgets over the next four years. This framework included stringent operating expenditure targets for all departments and caps on capital expenditures. In November 2019, City Departments came forward with approximately $147 million of tax-supported operating expenditure reduction options over the next four years to assist in bringing the budgets into balance.
“The preliminary multi-year balanced budgets tackle tomorrow’s deficits by eliminating them today,” said Councillor Scott Gillingham (St. James), Chair of the Standing Policy Committee on Finance.
The multi-year balanced budgets tabled today aim to control expenses and drive efficiencies while focusing on investments in key areas including transit, community safety, community services, roads, fire protection, and trees. The preliminary multi-year balanced budgets chart a course for real, measurable transformative change over the next four years.
“The preliminary multi-year balanced budgets seize the opportunity for transformative change in key service areas,” said Councillor Gillingham. “I believe the transformative initiatives proposed are one of the most important features of the multi-year budgets.”
In 2020, the Public Service will bring forward options to establish a new Transformative Fund (TF) for Council’s consideration which will be funded from the sale of assets deemed surplus to the City’s needs. In order to determine which assets are surplus, the Public Service will conduct a review of City-owned buildings and consider repurposing up to 30% of City owned golf lands. The Public Service will develop a wading pool and splash pad reinvestment strategy that will be funded through the TF.
“The preliminary multi-year balanced budgets do not include any of the proposed closures of existing City facilities or any other significant reductions to important City services, such as discontinuing multi-family garbage collection or changes to street lighting,” said Mayor Bowman.
The preliminary multi-year balanced budgets reflect approximately $118 million of operating expenditure reductions and include many of the options proposed by the Public Service in November, as well as some additional expenditure reductions while continuing to keep Winnipeg’s property taxes among the lowest of all major cities in Canada. The preliminary multi-year balanced budgets propose to cap property tax increases at 2.33% per year for the next four years with the entire increase dedicated to Winnipeg’s infrastructure requirements, with 2% of the proposed annual increase dedicated to rebuilding roads and 0.33% dedicated to financing the Southwest Rapid Transitway. The average homeowner will pay an additional $41 in property taxes in 2020.
The 2020-2023 preliminary operating and capital budgets will be discussed at Special Standing Policy Committee meetings over the next two weeks, with Council voting on the 2020 preliminary operating and capital budgets at a special meeting of Council on March 25, 2020. Council will still be required to vote on the annual operating and capital budgets each year in accordance with The City of Winnipeg Charter.