June 6, 2017
Kenora, ON – Today Council approved the 2017 Operating Budget. The 2017 Capital Budget was approved on March 21. 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 2017 included:
- Loss of Provincial funding of $333k
- Increased requests from Mandated External Organizations totalling $202k
- Combined net wage impacts of $327k, which includes the annual impact of $142k related to the 2016 Fire Arbitration award
- Continued need to work to address the City’s significant infrastructure deficit
The budget includes an increase in net tax levy of 1.3%, or $311k allocated towards capital spending, as recommended in the City’s Asset Management Plan.
Major capital projects planned for 2017 include:
- Combined Roads & Sidewalks Capital Program ($1.9 million, before storm sewers)
- Wayfinding Signage ($.34 million)
- Bus Shelters ($.3 million)
- GPS System ($.26 million)
- City Hall Windows ($.25 million)
Other projects of interest in the 2017 budget include:
- The deck tile at MSFC Pool couldn’t be completed in 2016 and will now take place in 2017
- The City will be managing various Rabbit Lake works projects ahead of the 2017 Canada Summer Games
Overall financial highlights of the approved 2017 budget include:
- $42.8 million in combined operating, capital, non-capital special projects / unusual spending and reserve appropriations, broken out as follows:
- $29.5 million in operating expenses;
- $2.5 million in reserve appropriations;
- $9.5 million in capital expenses; and
- $1.3 million in non-capital special projects / unusual spending
- Combined this represents $24.7 million in net tax levy requirement
The 2017 reassessment resulted in an increase in the residential tax base of 5.1%. Of this, 4.8% 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 2017, 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 1.18% 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 4.8% but the municipal property tax rate decreased by 1.18%. A property worth $200k in 2016 would have paid $2,539 in municipal taxes. In 2017, this same property, on average, is assessed at $210k and will pay $2,630 in taxes. This is a $91 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.