Motkaluk promises 1.16% property tax hike, plan to change the way Winnipeg collects revenue

Mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk is promising to change the way Winnipeg assesses residential properties as part of a pledge to cap property tax increases at 1.16 per cent a year.

Mayoral candidate pledges uniform hike for all owner-occupied residential properties, even after renovations

Mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk is promising no owner-occupied Winnipeg residential home or condo will see their tax bill rise higher than 1.16 per cent. Right now, individual bills can rise or fall, depending on differing market conditions in different neighbourhoods. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk is promising to change the way Winnipeg assesses residential properties as part of a pledge to cap property tax increases at 1.16 per cent a year.

Motkaluk said Thursday if she's elected mayor on Oct. 24, the city would no longer raise property taxes based on the overall pool of revenue collected from residential properties.

"We don't need another 'freeze, don't freeze' tax announcement," she said Thursday at her campaign headquarters on Ness Avenue.

"What we need is smart and simple tax reform. We need to know what we have to pay and when we have to pay it and what we're paying for."

Under Winnipeg's current property tax regime, the city sets a target level of overall revenue — for example, $585.6 million in 2018 — and enacts a tax hike to meet that that target.

Individual property tax bills can rise higher or even drop because the city redistributes the pool of property tax revenue among different neighbourhoods every two years, based on assessments.

That redistribution aims to reflect varying market conditions in different areas of the city. Motkaluk is promising to stop comparing one neighbourhood with another.

Wouldn't penalize owners for renovations: Motkaluk

Under her tax plan, residential properties occupied by their owners would receive hikes of 1.16 per cent a year, regardless of market conditions in Winnipeg overall, or home improvements such as renovations or additions.

Motkaluk said this plan would stop penalizing property owners who fix up their homes or condos.

Owner-occupied residential properties would only be subject to reassessments once they are sold, she said.

"Homeowners will know exactly what their tax bill for the next four years will be: 1.16 per cent [higher than] what their bill was last year. That's it," she said.

Commercial properties, industrial properties and rental properties would still be reassessed once every two years. She said this will have no effect on the rental market or the ability of rental property owners to fix up apartments.

$6.8M to general revenue

Motkaluk's plan would raise an additional $6.8 million for the city in 2019. She suggested the money would flow into general revenue for the City of Winnipeg.

This would end a practice that began during the Sam Katz administration, when Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt —​ in his role as council finance chair —​ started devoting the proceeds of property tax hikes to infrastructure renewal.

After being elected mayor in 2014, Brian Bowman continued this practice and expanded on it. He has pledged during his re-election campaign to continue raising property taxes by 2.33 per cent a year, with the proceeds of two percentage points devoted to road renewals and the remaining 0.33 per cent hike devoted to rapid transit.

Bowman's plan would raise an additional $13.7 million in 2019.

Motkaluk said her plan would provide property owners with more certainty. She said the city would continue to gather reassessment information every two years because it's required to do so.

She has consulted tax experts, she said, and believes she would have the authority to institute the changes in question without contravening the City of Winnipeg charter.

If elected, she says she would pass a bylaw that would allow the change to proceed.

Diack pledges 1.2% tax hike

Incumbent mayor Brian Bowman said it's not clear the City of Winnipeg has the legal authority to make the changes proposed by Motkaluk and noted whoever is elected mayor on Oct. 24 must work on a 2019 city budget that comes before council no later than February.

Bowman also said Motkaluk has presented no plan to pay for road renewals — something Motkaluk said she expected to say.

Mayoral candidate Tim Diack also made a tax pledge Thursday, promising a 1.2 per cent property tax that would raise an additional $7 million for the city in 2019.

Diack pledged to freeze property taxes in 2020 and reduce them in 2021.