Kitchener-Waterloo

Proposed Kitchener infrastructure levy targets long term $227M gap

Kitchener's finance committee opted Monday to approve in principle a long-term financial plan that includes a much-debated infrastructure levy, while leaving the door open to further debate.

Levy would be paid on top of property taxes

Kitchener's finance committee decided Monday that a proposed infrastructure tax levy will be up for further discussion during budget deliberations. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

Kitchener's finance committee opted Monday to approve in principle a long-term financial plan — that includes a much-debated infrastructure levy — while leaving the door open to further debate.

The levy is intended to generate cash to offset a looming facilities infrastructure gap, which is estimated to hit $227 million by 2029.

A facilities infrastructure gap is the projected difference between the funding available for facilities and what is needed to keep them up and running.

But, the levy, which would be paid on top of property taxes, would mean that property taxes in Kitchener would also rise above the rate of inflation for the next 10 years.

"I know the taxpayers are facing a lot of extra costs on a number of issues, they can't afford to an increase in taxes," said Ward 3 councillor John Gazzola, who was against the levy.

Gazzola also questioned whether the infrastructure gap is as significant as city staff have predicted.

Although the financial plan received initial approval Monday, nothing has been set in stone. City staff have been directed to continue investigating ways to address the infrastructure gap and the plan will be up for further discussion during budget deliberations.

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic said he hopes that more money might be made available following the federal election.

Speaking on behalf of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities this fall, Vrbanovic called on whoever forms the next government to permanently double the amount of money given to local governments through the gas tax fund transfer. 

Budget deliberations will begin in November and run through January, Vrbanovic said.

now