Kitchener – The City of Kitchener’s draft 2021 Budget has a proposed 1.1 per cent tax rate increase and the lowest combined impact to homeowners in more than a decade.

Years of passing balanced budgets, paying down debt, and building up reserve funds have allowed the City to focus on affordability for ratepayers without making cuts to the important programs and services residents value.  

“The City’s budget is always a careful balancing act between affordability for taxpayers and the investments necessary to advance our community priorities,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “As a result of the pandemic, the proposed budget is almost entirely focused towards affordability and the maintaining of highly valued community programs and services. I’m proud that in a year of tremendous challenges, we are looking at a budget that first and foremost looks after our residents and businesses while also helping ensure that we build back better as we come out the other side of this pandemic.”

For many years, the City has prioritized paying down debt, building reserves, and making long-term investments in infrastructure. This has allowed Kitchener to maintain a comparatively low property tax rate consistently at the rate of inflation.

When the pandemic hit in March, the City immediately took steps to reduce its financial impact, including:

  • Placing approximately 900 temporary staff (43 per cent of the workforce) on leave 
  • Deferring $21 million of capital spending  
  • Returning $1.3 million in capital funding to address shortfalls 
  • Freezing $1.1 million in discretionary spending 

Together, these actions have placed the City in a good position to mitigate the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to deliver valued services to the community. 

This year’s proposed tax rate increase is only possible by drawing on reserves built up to address budget fluctuations or unanticipated events like the COVID-19 pandemic and continuing mitigation measures to limit its financial impact.

“Throughout 2020, we’ve taken action to mitigate the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and plan for a variety of scenarios,” said Finance and Corporate Services Committee Chair Councillor Scott Davey. “The pandemic has disproportionally affected the most vulnerable in our community, and we’ve made the conscious decision to not cut valued community services when they’re more important than ever.”

The budget continues to invest in key community priorities identified in the City’s 2019-2022 Strategic Plan, including People Friendly Transportation, Caring Community, Environmental Leadership, Vibrant Economy and Great Customer Service

For the average household in Kitchener, the proposed rate increases for 2021 are:

  • Property tax increase is 1.1 per cent or $12 a year 
  • Water utilities increase is 0.9 per cent or $11 a year 
  • Gas rate increase is 1.5 per cent or $11 a year 
  • Total household impact - $34 a year

The City is encouraging residents to visit kitchener.ca/budget to read more, complete the feedback survey and join staff and council for public input sessions during the day of Monday, Dec. 7 and the evening of Monday, Dec. 14. The final budget day is set for Monday, Jan. 18. 

The full draft budget and associated background information is available at kitchener.ca/budget

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Yearly cost estimates are based on a bungalow with an assessed average of $326,000, our current average. 

Budget documents

Key dates 

  • Operating budget day - November 30, 2020 
  • Public input daytime session - December 07, 2020 - register as a delegation at kitchener.ca/delegations
  • Public input evening session - December 14, 2020 - register as a delegation at kitchener.ca/delegations
  • Budget survey closes - January 08, 2021 
  • Final budget day - January 18, 2021 

 

For more information
Shawn Falcao  
Manager, Corporate Communications  
City of Kitchener  
shawn.falcao@kitchener.ca