THUNDER BAY – The proposed 2019 city budget calls for all municipal taxpayers to come up with $6.2 million more than last year.
The draft fiscal plan, which would require $195.9 million to be collected from the tax base, was released on Thursday.
The levy increase amounts to a gross increase of 3.25 per cent from 2018, when the levy was $189.7 million.
After factoring in growth, the net levy increase is 2.95 per cent, which amounts to $5.6 million.
The levy is the total amount of money required to be collected from all municipal property taxpayers and is not the rate of a property tax increase.
City council will meet throughout the month of January to review the proposed budget, with final approval expected on Feb. 4.
"The proposed budget that will be presented to the council is a starting point for council's decision making," city treasurer Linda Evans said. "It's indicative of the additional costs associated with what is proposed in the budget and the expansions that are identified."
Last year’s long-term budget financial outlook had forecasted a gross levy increase of 5.03 per cent.
"That was a point in time and things have changed in this past year," Evans said. "Particularly the repeal of Bill 148 significantly reduced a lot of our costs this year. We were able to identify significant – about $2 million – in operating cost reductions
Increases to the budget include a $900,000 expansion to the Thunder Bay Police Services Board, as well as an additional $400,000 to Superior North EMS.
“The demand for services continues to rise in our city, especially in the areas of emergency services and public safety,” city manager Norm Gale said in a statement. “This budget addresses this without substantial cuts or decreases to services.”
The budget also includes a $1.2 million increase to the city’s net capital budget, bringing this year’s amount to $17.6 million.
Offsetting reductions include a $1.2 million provincial grant increase for Superior North EMS and long-term care and senior services, an increase of $1.2 million in corporate revenue and user fees, as well as $2 million relating to reduced fringe benefit expenses, utility savings and the phase out of the tax vacancy rebate program.
Water and sewer rates are each proposed to go up by three per cent, with those costs for the average Thunder Bay household estimated at $1,186 per year.
The proposed total combined rate and tax supported gross budget is $420.6 million, up from $400.5 million in 2018.