Manitoba Heavy Construction Association

Apr 2020

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A SUPPLEMENT TO THE WINNIPEG FREE PRESS SATURDAY, APRIL 11, 2020 3 Brian PALLISTER MLA for Fort Whyte Heather STEFANSON MLA for Tuxedo Eileen CLARKE MLA for Agassiz Cathy COX MLA for Kildonan - River East Cli CULLEN MLA for Spruce Woods Ralph EICHLER MLA for Lakeside Scott FIELDING MLA for Kirkfield Park Cameron FRIESEN MLA for Morden–Winkler Kelvin GOERTZEN MLA for Steinbach Derek JOHNSON MLA for Interlake-Gimli Scott JOHNSTON MLA for Assiniboia Bob LAGASSÉ MLA for Dawson Trail Greg NESBITT MLA for Riding Mountain Doyle PIWNIUK MLA for Turtle Mountain Jon REYES MLA for Waverley Ron SCHULER MLA for Springfield-Ritchot Audrey GORDON MLA for Southdale Josh GUENTER MLA for Borderland Sarah GUILLEMARD MLA for Fort Richmond Len ISLEIFSON MLA for Brandon East Andrew MICKLEFIELD MLA for Rossmere Proud to Support Manitoba Heavy Construction Janice MORLEY-LECOMTE MLA for Seine River Blaine PEDERSEN MLA for Midland Wayne EWASKO MLA for Lac du Bonnet Reg HELWER MLA for Brandon West Alan LAGIMODIERE MLA for Selkirk Shannon MARTIN MLA for McPhillips Brad MICKALESKI MLA for Dauphin Rochelle SQUIRES MLA for Riel Dennis SMOOK MLA for La Verendrye Andrew SMITH MLA for Lagimodiere James TEITSMA MLA for Radisson Je WHARTON MLA for Red River North Ian WISHART MLA for Portage la Prairie Rick WOWCHUK MLA for Swan River T he City of Winnipeg recently adopted its rst ever multiyear budget that balances four operating years. is marks a signi cant turning point in budgeting. Unlike previous years when city budgets were balanced one year at a time with large, forecasted de cits ($175 million by 2023), the 2020-23 budget tackles tomorrow's de cits by eliminating them today. Winnipeg is in line now with several Canadian municipalities that have adopted multiyear budgets, which is considered best practice by the Government Finance O cers Association. e 2020-2023 multiyear budget process began with goals of investing in priority services, controlling expenses and seizing the opportunity for transformative change in key areas. I believe the adopted multiyear balanced budget achieves those goals. Balancing multiple budget years forced city council to take a longer-term view of Winnipeg's revenues, expenses and service-level needs. It also required council to consider what services are core to the city's mandate. e City of Winnipeg delivers and funds a wide range of services. Among them are those it is required to deliver under the City of Winnipeg Charter and/ or its bylaws. e process revealed city councillors have di ering views as to what services should be de ned as core to the city's mandate. As a rule of thumb, core services include, but are not limited to, the three Ps; pavement, pipes and police. ose services will receive priority investment in the multiyear balanced budget. Road renewal is a core service. is city's six-year capital budget prioritizes road renewal by investing the full value of the 2% property tax increase in regional and local road renewal. In 2020, the city will invest a total of $130.3 million in roads, the highest annual level of investment in our city's history. A projected total of almost $847 million (an average $141 million per year) will be invested in regional and local road renewals over the next 6 years, resulting in approximately 900 lane-kilometres of road, back lane and sidewalk renewals. e 2020-2023 multiyear balanced budget also aims to control expenses. With property tax increases limited to 2.33% in each of the next four years and dedicated to infrastructure investment, revenues are limited and therefore expenditure control is critical to balancing multiple budgets. With limited revenues, di cult choices had to be made. Services that are core to the city's legislative mandate continue to receive priority investment, while some of the discretionary services received smaller funding increases. Grants to many third- party organizations saw a 10% reduction in annual funding. e COVID-19 pandemic is having a signi cant negative impact on business and household income. Government revenues and expenses are also being a ected. At the time of this writing, it is too early to know the full impact on the City of Winnipeg cash ows but city administration is working to ensure they are managed e ectively. Perhaps somewhere between prescient and fortuitous, the adoption of the 2020- 2023 multiyear balanced budget may prove timely. By doing the hard work today of eliminating future de cits and balancing four operating budget years, the city is better positioned to absorb COVID-19's challenging nancial impacts. If city council had not adopted a multiyear balanced budget, the city would be facing the di cult task of nding ways to eliminate a de cit of over $100 million for 2021 with only 9 months le in 2020, while simultaneously addressing the impact of COVID-19. By adopting a multiyear balanced budget that limits property taxes to a 2.33% increase per year, the average homeowner will only pay $41 more on their municipal tax bill in 2020 than they paid in 2019. If council had raised property taxes by 6% or more (as many people were calling for) property owners would be facing signi cant increases at a time when many can least a ord it. Council will still be required to vote on the annual operating and capital budgets each year, in accordance with e City of Winnipeg Charter. e multi- year balanced budget process provides council with an opportunity to make adjustments to the budgets each year as part of an annual review process. It will be important for council to continue the discussion on core services as part of the annual budget process in an e ort to avoid mission creep. B Y S C O T T G I L L I N G H A M Coun. Scott Gillingham is the Chair of City Council's Finance Committee and led the budget working group for 2020 WINNIPEG'S BALANCED BUDGET A BUFFER FROM COVID-19 COSTS City council has to think about what are its 'core' services Colin Corneau photo

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