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Monday, January 07, 2019

City of Kitchener seeks input on proposed 2019 budget

Kitchener – The City of Kitchener is seeking public input on its proposed 2019 budget, which will be considered by council throughout January. The proposed property tax increase of 2.3 per cent is below Ontario’s rate of inflation, and the review of 2018’s actuals versus budget is projecting a small surplus.

Budget documents that will be presented to council and the key dates for the budget process can be found at www.kitchener.ca/budget. The public is being encouraged to provide input and suggestions through an online survey, phone, email or in person at the Jan. 21 public input session.

The annual budget lays out the city’s strategic priorities for the year, funding services and programs through the operating budget, and addressing asset renewal and replacements needs through the capital budget. For 2019, the budget includes four priority areas of investment:

• Road Safety & Cycling

• Environmental Sustainability

• Improving Customer Service

• Maintaining & Investing in Infrastructure

“We know that affordable tax rate increases are an important consideration when preparing the budget each year. We’re pleased that the proposed 2019 budget will allow the city to move forward with key strategic investments while continuing to deliver valuable programs and services for the community, keeping with a tax rate increase that comes in under the rate of inflation,” said Jonathan Lautenbach, the city’s chief financial officer.

A breakdown of the rate change and impact to the average homeowner can be found below, calculated on a medium-sized single detached home valued at $309,000.

The proposed rate changes are as follows:

• Property tax increase is 2.3 per cent or $25 annually

• Water utilities increase is 6.5 per cent or $78 annually

• Gas is reduced 0.93 per cent or $7 annually

• The total impact annually on the average household is $96.

In 2018, Kitchener implemented a sustainable funding model for the city’s water, sanitary and stormwater infrastructure to ensure the safe delivery of these valued utilities. A multi-year initiative, 2018 investments have already improved several key measures of water quality and proactive maintenance has reduced the risk of flooding in high-risk areas. The water utilities increase of 6.5 per cent is largely related to these investments, and is consistent with the forecast for 2019.

“Accurate forecasting and the small annual surpluses that we’ve seen for the past three years demonstrate that our planning process is comprehensive and that budgets are being managed diligently across the city,” said Lautenbach. "What we’re looking for now is public feedback on the proposed budget. We believe that the priorities we’ve identified will resonate with residents, and we encourage citizen engagement as part of the process.”

Any feedback submitted through the online survey found at Kitchener.ca/budget will be summarized and presented to council during the Jan. 21 public input session.­ 

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