City Tables $847M Operating Budget, Hikes Levy Fees

By Sarah Klein

City Hall, 510 Main Street (CHRISD.CA)

The City of Winnipeg will increase frontage levies used to fund infrastructure to help cover the rising costs of maintaining streets and sidewalks.

That was just one highlight in the city’s $847.4 million 2011 operating budget unveiled Monday at City Hall, which will go towards funding essential services from police, fire and paramedics, to libraries and recreational programming.

The city will once again maintain its freeze on property taxes, by generating an estimated $13 million this year by raising other fees.

“By using alternative, fair and transparent sources of revenue we can maintain Winnipeg’s competetiveness (sic) nation-wide while we repair roads and sidewalks in a dedicated manner,” said councillor and finance chairman Scott Fielding. “Winnipeg faces serious economic challenges and limited revenue streams — we only collect 6.1 cents of every tax dollar paid by Winnipeggers. We need to continue to explore new revenue streams including growth revenues to ensure our long-term financial stability and address the priorities of citizens.”

Other highlights of the budget include $5.7 million to include 20 new firefighters at the future Sage Creek station and 32 new police officers towards Mayor Sam Kat’z promise of 58. Twenty-six more officers will be added in 2012.

The city is also investing $107 million in the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, and offering free wireless Internet at all libraries, the Pan Am Pool and the new North End Recreation Complex.

Commitments were also made to increase funding for the Winnipeg Humane Society and inner-city youth programming.

City council will debate the budget on March 22.