After years of rising property taxes, the proposed 2019 city budget is expected to be the leanest in almost 20 years, with a proposed tax increase of just 0.3 per cent.
This also marks the lowest total budget increase in 20 years, an increase of only 0.8 per cent. The city estimates that the average tax bill will rise by $17 on the city portion, $70 overall including the region.
Included in the budget is a new transit levy of one per cent, which will earmark funds solely for transit capital projects and allow the city to redirect some money to other areas of the city. This joins with the existing two per cent infrastructure levy. The existing hospital levy will be removed.
The proposed operating budget this year is $713 million; the capital budget is almost $384 million.
Big and small community services projects will take up almost half the capital budget this year, with fire and recreation on the top of the list. Public works and engineering (road resurfacing, construction, etc.) is another third of the budget and transit makes up 12 per cent.
The proposed transit levy may be small, but it is expected the city will receive $191.6 million from the federal government and $158 million from the provincial government through the national public transit fund over the next decade, in addition to existing gas tax funding.
Have an opinion on the budget? The city is hosting a telephone town hall on March 4 between 6 – 7 p.m., or you can submit your opinions online.