Winnipeg city budget proposes 3.87% property tax hike

Winnipeggers are facing a 3.87 per cent property tax hike as the city prepares to spend $1.3 billion on its major budgets for 2013.

The preliminary operating budget, tabled this afternoon, is set at $921.6 million while the preliminary capital budget is $374.7 million.

The tax increase, slightly more than the 3.5 per cent boost last year, amounts to about $57 per year on an average assessed home of $235,000.

The preliminary budgets must still be approved by council at a meeting on Jan. 29.

As soon as the budgets were tabled, Charleswood-Tuxedo Coun. Paula Havixbeck expressed her opposition to the proposed tax increase.

"I think that the citizens of Winnipeg don't deserve a tax increase right now, and I'm going to do everything in my power to try to find areas for improved savings or cost-cutting that don't impact services," she told reporters.

Havixbeck said she's also unhappy to hear councillors would receive $40,000 more in discretionary funding for their personal expenses — a boost of almost 50 per cent — at a time when city departments are being asked to cut their budgets.

If approved, the property tax increase will bring in an additional $17.4 million to the city coffers.

The city is also proposing to establish a new local street renewal reserve. One per cent of the property tax will be solely dedicated to the renewal of streets, lanes and sidewalks.

The city is boosting its funding to the police and fire and paramedic service by a combined $31.3 million ($22.4 million and $8.9 million, respectively) over 2012.

It also plans to purchase one additional ambulance and hire 12 more paramedic staff, as well as 10 fire paramedic dispatch operators.

This is the first time the city has ever tabled both of its major financial decisions — the operating and capital budgets — at the same time.

The capital budget, which covers the city's spending on infrastructure matters like roads, buses, bridges, buildings, and sewers, was $393 million last year.

The operating budget, which covers the expense of running city services — everything from the police service to garbage pickup and recreation facilities — was $892 million in 2012.

It totalled $817.6 million in 2010 and $847.4 million in 2011.

$374.7 million total.

$137.5 million for Stage 2 of Southwest Rapid Transit Corridor (to be operational by 2018).

$109.1 million for various road projects (including $30M for Polo Park area improvements and $7.4M for twinning Molson Street from Munroe to Concordia avenues).

$26.3 million for the redevelopment of library branches.

$4.5 million for Assiniboine Park Conservancy’s development plan (in addition to $11.9M operating grant)

$40 million for Winnipeg Police Service.

$22 million for Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.

$5 million for East Elmwood Community Centre.

$921.6 million total.

$242 million for Winnipeg Police Service.

$163.7 million for Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.

$168.8 million for Winnipeg Transit.

$3.8 million for Dutch Elm Disease management.

$250,000 per year increase for a one-in-10-year tree pruning program.

Business tax rate maintained at 5.9 per cent.

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