Frontage fees to jump 25% in Winnipeg budget, Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt says
Mayor and finance chair not being upfront with citizens, says Wyatt
Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt says frontage fees for homes will increase 25 per cent in the new budget.
The current frontage levy is $4.35 per foot; the new budget calls for an increase to $5.45 per foot, he said.
The spike in the frontage levy works out to $55 more for the average home.
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The councillor said he has big problems with the increase and with where the additional taxpayer money will go.
Mayor Brian Bowman is playing a "shell game" with Winnipeggers, Wyatt said.
"Why isn't the mayor and why isn't the chair of finance, Coun. Morantz, being frank and upfront with the citizens of Winnipeg and saying exactly what they are using the money for instead of trying to hide it," Wyatt said.
The mayor promised the 25 per cent increase in frontage fees would pay to repair bridges, but the money will be spent on balancing the budget, Wyatt said.
Wyatt said there's also a problem when it comes to the 2.3 per cent increase in property taxes. The added funds are supposed to go toward fixing Winnipeg's roads and rapid transit, but Wyatt said the budget says otherwise.
Winnipeg is spending $105 million on roads in this year's budget, which is only $2 million more than last year, Wyatt said. The increase should be closer to $10 million to be in line with the two per cent increase in property taxes. Wyatt believes the difference in funds is also being used to balance the budget.
Mayor Brian Bowman and finance committee chair Marty Morantz refute Wyatt's claims. They say both the property tax and frontage levy increase will go to paying for infrastructure.
This year's proposed budget represents a record investment into the regional and local street renewal, said Bowman.
CBC News asked city officials for clarification on funding for new infrastructure. They responded with the following:
"One, this year (2016) the city is financing road renewal through cash, not debt and two, of the cumulative $11 million in efficiency savings identified this year, $6.5 million started last year."
"Over $13 million of debt has been eliminated as a financing source. This is being made up by cash from the property tax increase."
City officials say you can't add the cumulative total $11 million in efficiency savings because that represents a cumulative amount for 2016, $6.5 million of which began in 2015.