This week at our final strategic planning session, council was asked to set a target tax rate increase for the city’s next four annual budgets. After several hours of debate and discussion, council voted to set this tax rate target at 2.5%.
I have consistently stated that as a city, we must live within our means and keep Kingston affordable for taxpayers. I am pleased with council’s decision to keep future tax rate increases in line with the rate of inflation, and to explore savings and efficiencies with the potential to bring in lower tax rate increases over the next four years.
It’s important to note the 2.5% increase continues to dedicate 1% toward saving for infrastructure that will allow us to invest in future capital projects. This means we are targeting only a 1.5% increase towards city operations, which is actually below the inflation rate. To bring in this rate we will need to find approximately 1.5 million dollars in operational efficiencies and/or additional revenue sources. It’s a big challenge, but I believe we can reach this target.
Here are two ways we can hit our target;
First, we will review our existing operations and carefully examine how to get better value for tax dollars, either by using new technologies, adopting best practices from other cities, or finding innovative ways to deliver services more efficiently. After all, that’s what being a smart city is all about!
Second, we will work hard to grow our local economy and expand our tax base. More growth will take the pressure off our existing taxpayers. Since council has chosen building a smart economy as its top strategic priority, I believe we will be successful.