Manitoba·city hall roundup

Winnipeg still waiting for Manitoba to say what projects it will pay for in 2018

Winnipeg is still waiting for Manitoba to clarify its funding for the city this year, with only 34 days left on the calendar.

City unclear what province plans to fund this year, 34 days before 2019

Christmas season arrived at city hall prior to provincial clarity about what projects it intends to pay for in 2018. (Brian Bowman/Twitter)

Winnipeg is still waiting for Manitoba to clarify its funding for the city this year, with only 34 days left on the calendar.

Winnipeg chief financial officer Mike Ruta told council's finance committee Tuesday the province has yet to tell the city how it plans to allocate $84 million worth of capital funding — that is, money for infrastructure and equipment — promised for 2018.

The city has made $69 million worth of capital-funding requests from the province and has received $1.4 million to date, Ruta told the committee.

The city is also waiting for $11 million worth of capital funding for 2017, Ruta added.

The province has fulfilled most of its commitments for 2018 operating funding, which covers program spending, Ruta said. The city is still waiting for $19 million worth of public-safety funding from Manitoba Justice, he said.

Council finance chair Scott Gillingham (St. James) said he would like to see the province communicate its 2019 funding intentions early.

Gillingham said he hopes a draft city budget will be tabled in February.

Phone payments on Peggo horizon

Winnipeg Transit plans to explore the use of mobile-phone payment on board buses.

Transit officials told city council's finance committee Tuesday they hope a future upgrade of the Peggo electronic fare-payment system would allow passengers to use their phones.

It would be easier to use phones than Interac debit cards because Winnipeg Transit buses are not equipped with wireless connections to banking networks, the committee was told.

There is no timeline for phone payments.

Winnipeg to review TIF

The City of Winnipeg is reviewing the use of tax-increment financing, a funding mechanism intended to stimulate development.

When properties such as surface parking lots or aging buildings are improved, they increase in assessed value, resulting in higher property-tax bills. Tax-increment financing, or TIF, allows some or all of the additional property taxes to be rebated to the property owner or spent on public improvements in the immediate vicinity of the development.

The widespread and sometimes inconsistent use of TIF led the province to review the mechanism this year and place new TIF requests on hold. A provincial report into tax-increment financing is due early in 2019.

This has led to a halt in plans to develop the Railside land at The Forks, where proponents hoped to spend new property-tax revenue on public spaces and roads near the development.

Council's finance committee voted Tuesday for a review of its own.