Kitchener delivers affordable, sustainable budget under rate of inflation
Kitchener council approved their 2018 budget, which includes a city tax rate increase of 1.6 per cent. Based on the average residential household assessment of $300,000, the city portion of the annual property tax rate will increase by $17 per year, or $1.42 per month. Combined with water, sanitary and stormwater utility increases of 6.5 per cent ($73 per year or $6.08 per month) the overall annual increase for the average Kitchener homeowner in 2018 is $90.
“I am so impressed with what staff has accomplished in bringing forward this budget,” said finance and corporate services committee chair Coun. Scott Davey. “This budget provides an increase under the rate of inflation that maintains funding for existing programs and services while also investing in new resources that people value most like parks, trails and neighbourhoods all while continuing to pay down our debt.”
A number of themes flowed through this year’s budget discussions including affordability and sustainability, investing in infrastructure and creating community. Councillors faced the difficult challenge of striking a balance between these important needs.
Affordability and sustainability
The city strives for competitive, rational and affordable taxation levels. The budget supports infrastructure systems and neighbourhoods that are well-planned, managed, and cost-effective to meet the community’s long-term needs for services, creating a healthy urban environment that is safe, walkable and vibrant.
Investing in infrastructure
The replacement and maintenance of aging infrastructure in order to maintain safe and reliable water, sanitary and stormwater services must be built on a sustainable funding model. Aside from the proposed property tax increase of 1.6 per cent, residents will see increases on their utility bills, though not as high as in previous years. The utility rates also reflect increases to regional rates for water supply and sewage processing. The combined tax and utility increases still place Kitchener among the most affordable municipalities in Ontario.
While infrastructure is important to keep a city running, citizens are often looking for more than just a place to live, they are looking for a community to which they can belong.
The 2018 budget invests in neighbourhoods, green spaces, public spaces and the Iron Horse Trail as a major commuter line and backbone of our community. Highlights include:
• Funding for Kiwanis and McLennan parks will be brought up to the same levels as the Huron Natural Area and Victoria Park.
• Combining a typical road reconstruction project with other community elements like a pedestrian first plaza, decorative sidewalks and intersection design, and redevelopment of a nearby green space
• Completing the paving, widening, and lighting of all three sections (north, south, and central) of Iron Horse Trail
Extra resources in parks development, the neighbourhood development office and active transportation planning will strengthen community connections in neighbourhoods and public spaces.
"Today's budget has invested in the things that are important for building a better Kitchener," said Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. "From building strong neighbourhoods through our "Love My Hood" initiatives to supporting a growing economy through our "Make It Kitchener" strategy including support for new businesses and promoting planned development - this budget has struck the right balance between cost and benefit. It is a budget that allows us to continue to build an innovative, caring and vibrant city."
"As this term comes to an end, this budget and that of the past three years reflects what can be achieved when city council and staff work together collaboratively for the community", added Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. "Over the past four years, we have worked hard to bring in tax increases below the rate of inflation, while paying down debt, delivering quality services and making important investments in the facilities and infrastructure that are important to Kitchener residents and businesses."