Council has unanimously passed budget adjustments for next year setting the stage for a 0% property tax increase.
The document contains a property tax freeze made possible by a one time $18-million rebate through the city’s so-called rainy day fund.
Council will hear Tuesday from various city departments on their overall business plans. Councillors can still propose changes, and there could be some help for small businesses. 79 per cent of commercial properties are facing an increase, mostly to compensate for a dramatic drop in real estate values downtown.
On Monday, the city heard from some members of the public who stressed that council needs to do more cutting.
Councillor Ward Sutherland, who sits on the finance committee, says there’s been a lot of cutting and efficiencies made that aren’t obvious to the public. He adds the cuts can only go so deep.
“Actually saying no (to spending) is the easiest thing to do and at times can be the worst decision ever. There’s times where we have made decisions as council to spend money to save quadruple, and sometimes more over a long period of time.”
Overall, the city has managed to find $183.3 million in savings.
Even with the tax freeze, market value assessment means some residential property owners could still see tax increases, and of course the province’s portion of properties taxes still has to be factored in.
When it comes to the capital budget, city administrators are proposing a budget of $1.8-billion next year which is above the five year average of $1.2-billion.