After a marathon two days of debating, Brandon's city council has passed this year's budget, holding property taxes to an increase of 0.42 per cent.
This means the average Brandon homeowner will see an increase of about $8 on their property tax bill.
"This is, I think, the fourth year in a row where we've been able to keep property tax increases aligned — I think it's been 2.04 per cent combined over our four years," said Brandon mayor Rick Chrest. "I think that works out to about one-third the rate of inflation."
"It's a game of inches. Council has just taken the whole notion of keeping property taxes in line to heart ... we pore through the budget line by line and we have an administration that helps identify where we can tighten up until we get it done.
"That's kind of a hallmark of this council, and I am extremely proud of them."
Some of the budget highlights include:
- An extra $500,000 for the Keystone Centre
- An additional $200,000 for road paving and milling
- Funding for a new "Downtown Ambassador" pilot program to the tune of $30,000, and $50,000 more in funding for the Brandon Downtown Development Corporation
- $25,000 for an electric car charging station at the Riverbank Discover Centre
- $100,000 in reserve funding for a future soccer pitch
- Transit will see a "slight" reduction in service hours on Sundays and holidays
- Funding pulled for the National Communities in Bloom program
- Lowered funding for the Summer Lights Music Program
- Reduced funding for snow clearing, thanks to this year's minimal snowfall
Brandon, like Winnipeg, was facing a transit funding shortfall after the province froze funding at 2017 levels, Chrest said. This meant finding cost savings of about $227,000.
To make up the difference, Chrest said the budget proposes a slight fare increase and reduced service on Sundays and holidays. He said the city also absorbed some of the cost of the shortfall.
The budget will go for public consultations in the spring.