City Approves 2024 Budget with Modest Tax Hike

Published on: 2024/01/26 - in News

Kingston City Council has finalized the city’s operating and capital budgets for 2024, endorsing a property tax increase of 3.5 per cent. The increase, composed of a 2.5 per cent tax hike coupled with a 1 per cent levy for capital investments, is currently among the lowest for Ontario cities with populations surpassing 100,000.

The budgetary process, guided by the new Strong Mayor Powers legislation, saw Mayor Bryan Paterson proposing the budget for Council’s review, as stipulated under Section 284.16 of the Municipal Act, 2001. Mayor Paterson’s proposal delineated a $477 million operating budget and a $131 million capital budget for the year 2024.

Mayor Paterson said of the new budget, “It provides a strategic roadmap for our city’s progress, ensuring targeted investments in crucial areas while maintaining existing City services. This budget establishes the groundwork for several council priorities and sets the stage for many important initiatives for our community.”

For an average homeowner, with a property valued at $328,100, the tax increase translates to an additional $133 per year. These funds are allocated to essential services including waste management, public transit, road and bridge upkeep, policing, recreational activities, emergency services, libraries, museums, community services, crossing guards, and long-term care.

Desiree Kennedy, Chief Financial Officer and City Treasurer, outlined the budget preparation process, highlighting the challenges posed by inflation. “Despite inflationary challenges, the 2024 operating budget provides for a municipal tax increase of 2.5 per cent, well below the current rate of inflation, plus a 1 per cent incremental capital levy for continued investment in the city’s capital assets.”

The operating budget for 2024 not only preserves essential service levels but also augments the maintenance of parks and sports fields, broadens transit and recreational provisions, bolsters firefighting resources, and enhances school safety. It also supports community safety and well-being initiatives, in addition to amplifying investment in housing, homelessness, emergency shelter, and street outreach.

The capital budget reflects routine asset management investments necessary for the sustenance of the city’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges, parks, facilities, and fleet. Noteworthy capital projects for the year include a $9.5 million allocation for the Confederation Basin Promenade, a $7.5 million investment in affordable and supportive housing, and a $10.2 million outlay for replacing six diesel transit buses with electric models. An additional $8 million has been designated for road repairs.

The Council also introduced amendments to the proposed budget, allocating an extra $1 million for family physician recruitment and setting aside $40,000 for more crossing guards.

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