City of Winnipeg projects $57M deficit for 2022

The City of Winnipeg expects to post a $57-million deficit at the end of this year, mainly because heavy snow-clearing demands, higher-than-expected fire-paramedic spending and the city's failed effort to ratchet back police pension contributions.

Snow-clearing, police pension gambit, fire-paramedic spending create river of red ink

A front-end loader pushes a large mound of snow on a city street.
Winnipeg's public works department alone expects to be $41 million over budget due to heavy snow-clearing demands. (Bert Savard/CBC)

The City of Winnipeg expects to post a $57-million deficit at the end of this year, mainly because heavy snow-clearing demands, higher-than-expected fire-paramedic spending and the city's failed effort to ratchet back police pension contributions.

The deficit projection, published Friday morning, is based on financial figures from the end of September. The projected deficit is now $3 million higher than it was at the end of June.

The final figure for 2022 will be tabulated in February. City council finance chair Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) says he does not expect a significant improvement over a $57-million budget shortfall, mainly because of the higher-than-usual snow-clearing tab is already on the books.

The city's public works department is heading toward a $41-million deficit, mainly because of last winter's unusual snowfall.

The Winnipeg Fire-Paramedic Service has a projected $9.1-million deficit, mostly because of higher-than-expected salaries, overtime and benefits.

The Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) deficit is expected to be $9.5 million, mainly because the city is still trying to backfill its failed attempt to exclude overtime wages from police pension contributions.

The combined budget deficit, which works out to $57 million due to savings in other departments, would be equal to a 4.7-per-cent overrun on the city's nearly $1.2-billion budget for 2022.

The shortfall will be covered by a transfer from the city's financial stabilization reserve fund, Browaty says.

A transfer of that size would leave that stabilization reserve with only $14.5 million at the end of 2022, according to a report that comes before council's finance and economic development committee next week.

Browaty says the city must replenish that fund over several years to return it to health. The city relied on that reserve, along with funding from the federal government, to make it through the pandemic.

In two separate reports to council's finance and economic development committee, the WPS and Winnipeg Transit are seeking cash infusions to make it to the end of the year.

The police have requested an additional $4.3 million, while transits ays it needs $11 million. Those requests will come before the committee on Thursday.