A property tax hike was the number one issue Wednesday night as Thunder Bay city council took feedback from residents about the municipal budget for the coming year.

Five out of the nine people in attendance expressed their displeasure with a 2.6 per cent overall tax increase in the 2013 budget. Some speakers also said the public wasn't properly consulted ahead of time.

If the budget is ratified next month, the average homeowner will pay $89 more this year.

"How many years of this tax hike stuff are we going to take?" asked Thunder Bay resident Bob Parisien. "There's a lot of people that are just barely making ends meet now."

Patty Bates said the city should be looking at how to cut costs, not increase tax revenue.

"Let's try and do more with less. Everybody's doing it in the private sector ... we can do it in the city as well," she said.

Explaining how money is being spent is something that the city needs to improve, according to Councillor Mark Bentz.

"I don't think anyone has a problem paying taxes if they feel the money is being spent well," he said.  "It's a check-and-balance right?  And some people don't feel that the money is being spent well."

Bentz said the city can do a better job communicating budget specifics to the public if it uses "layman's terms."  Right now, he said, the language is something that "a chartered accountant might understand." 

Bates also said three days were not enough time for residents to examine the budget.

"Obviously, they didn't see public participation as being that important," she said.

City Manager Tim Commisso has said the tax increase is the only way to maintain current services without having to make cuts.

The final ratification vote for the 2013 budget is scheduled for March 4.