Reducing the Annual Property Tax Rate Increase
This week City Council completed its strategic planning work with a very important decision: we are going to begin reducing the annual property tax rate increase below its current level. For the last number of years, we have worked to advance new projects, maintain existing city services and hold the line on property tax increases at a total of 2.5% per year. Since we devote 1% of this increase each year to infrastructure repairs and upgrades, that has meant capping the tax increase for city operations to only 1.5%.
At the same time, most people in our community are feeling cost of living pressures in many other areas, so it’s critical that as city government we do more to reduce the pressure on taxpayers. We don’t want to have to cut programs and services that Kingstonians rely on, so we have to work hard to find efficiencies that can bring us the cost savings we need. That’s why I’m very pleased that Council has adopted a new path that will target a slow reduction in the annual tax increase for city operations from 1.5% to 1.3% by the end of this term, while still maintaining existing city services and the additional 1% levy towards infrastructure.
Looking ahead, there are a couple of things that could move us off of these targets. First, if we can get more housing built and achieve faster growth over these next few years, that will also give us options to decrease the property tax rate increase even further. I would like to see at least 3000 new housing units built over the next term of Council, which would not only address our current housing crunch but also provide additional revenues to the City, allowing for further reductions in the tax rate. The other big factor is changes to provincial government funding. There’s still lots of information that we don’t have about what this fiscal impact will be, and I’m sure this is something we will need to discuss as Council once we have that information.
However, when it comes to factors that are in our control, Council has made the right choice. We have a new set of strategic priorities to push Kingston forward, together with a plan for fiscal responsibility with a downward path for future property tax rate increases.