Council Approves 2018 Operating Budget

Today Council approves the 2018 Operating Budget. The 2018 Capital Budget was approved on February 20. The budget includes a number of critical projects initiated by staff, council and community input.

Some of the more significant impacts the City faced in 2018 included:

  • Loss of Provincial funding of $322K
  • Increased requests from Mandated External Organizations totalling $102K
  • Combined net wage impacts of $267K
  • Continued need to work to address the City’s significant infrastructure deficit

Major capital projects planned for 2018 include:

  • Aerial Fire Truck ($1.2 million)
  • Art Centre ($4 million)
  • Seventh Avenue South Bridge ($2 million)
  • Transit Bus ($.51 million)
  • Handi Transit Bus ($.13 million)

Other projects of interest in the 2018 budget include:

  • Dufrense Island North Entrance Construction expected to be completed in 2018
  • The City has seen several new signs in 2018 as it continues with its Wayfinding Implementation projects

Overall financial highlights of the approved 2018 budget include:

  • $53.8 million in combined operating, capital, non-capital special projects / unusual spending and reserve appropriations, broken out as follows: $30.1 million in operating expenses; $1.8 million in reserve appropriations; $19.6 million in capital expenses; and $2.3 million in non-capital special projects / unusual spending
  • Combined this represents $25.4 million in net tax levy requirement

The 2018 reassessment resulted in an increase in the residential tax base of 5.7%. Of this, 4.9% related to increased values on existing homes, with the balance of the increase resulting from new construction.

Council knew it had to make every effort to help reduce the impact of these assessment increases on the average homeowner. Therefore, again in 2018, council elected to use Revenue Neutral Tax Ratios. This is a tax tool that maintains the tax burden by class, regardless of where the assessments rose the most. This was done to avoid shifting more of the tax burden onto the residential ratepayers.

Today’s budget represents a 2.6% decrease in the City’s residential municipal tax rate. Because of the change in assessments, some homeowners will see their tax bills increase and some homeowners will see their tax bills decrease.

What does this mean for the average homeowner? For a property with no changes (changes such as a new garage or an addition), on average, the assessment rose by 5.25% but the municipal property tax rate decreased by 2.6%. A property worth $166,750 in 2017 would have paid $2,390.49 in municipal taxes. In 2018, this same property, on average, is assessed at $175,500 and will pay $2,442.97 in taxes. This is a $52.48 dollar increase for the year.

We on Council believe that this budget, in conjunction with the strong financial management by City Council over recent years, will continue to maintain the City’s financial strength and stability.

We would like to recognize the time and efforts made by City staff and management, who worked so diligently in partnership with Council, towards developing a budget that maintains services and strengthens Kenora.

Jon Ranger, Budget/Special Projects Officer (807) 467-2010