Kitchener, ONTARIO – Kitchener council has approved the 2019 budget, authorizing a financial plan that maintains existing services and invests in four priority areas. The property tax increase of 2.25 per cent is slightly below Ontario’s rate of inflation and water utilities will see a combined rate increase of 6.5 per cent as the result of necessary investments to ensure the safe and consistent delivery of these valued services.
A summary of the rate changes can be found below, with dollar figures demonstrating the impact for an owner of a home valued at $309,000 – the average assessed value of a home in Kitchener.
The proposed rate changes are as follows:
- Property tax increase is 2.25 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 annual impact the average household is $96.
“I believe both council and staff can be proud of the budget we’ve approved here today,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “Our investments today reflect the priorities identified by our community during the recent election, our Environics survey and citizen engagement efforts. They help ensure we are a building a better, more caring Kitchener for everyone."
Consultation with residents, councillors and key stakeholders during this years’ budget process identified four priority themes for investment in 2019:
- Road Safety & Cycling
- Environmental Sustainability
- Improving Customer Service
- Maintaining & Investing in Infrastructure
Through the budget process, in these themes, council approved investments in road safety and cycling, including pilots for expanded winter maintenance of cycling lanes, separated cycling lanes and increased funding for traffic calming initiatives. Environmental sustainability is supported in the budget by a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increased use of biodiesel for city vehicles and a comprehensive Urban Forest Strategy. Customer service improvements include the development of a new customer service portal and additional funding to support the needs of a growing community. Although the majority of infrastructure spending relates to the rehabilitation of City Hall Outdoor Spaces including Carl Zehr Square, it also includes increases to the proactive maintenance of water and sewer utility infrastructure.
Further, council directed additional changes to the budget to focus on affordable housing, increased funding for the Leisure Access Card program and additional funding for small scale traffic calming.
“Public consultation is a year-round priority for staff,” said Finance and Corporate Services Committee Chair Councillor Scott Davey. “This approved budget is the culmination of months of work – a process that begins by listening to citizen feedback and working with councillors to understand the priorities of their constituents,” said Davey. “I encourage anyone who found themselves engaged by the budget process to watch Kitchener.ca, our social media channels and the new Engage Kitchener platform – we are always looking for public input on our services and programs.”
For the fourth year in a row, a small surplus is expected when the full reconciliation of the 2018 budget is completed. The full budget and associated background information is available at Kitchener.ca/budget.