Residential property owners in Kenora still may see an increase in their property taxes this year, but it will be a little less than what was originally projected by city council.

After further review and discussion city councilors and staff were able to dwindle the increase down from 2.9 per cent to 2.1 per cent on residential property taxes. This was part of a Committee of the Whole Meeting on Tuesday (May 10, 2022), to discuss the potential to approve the 2022 Operating Budget.

Charlotte Edie, Director of Finance for the City of Kenora, says though residential taxes rates will decrease, others such as industrial and commercial rates will increase above the previously projected 2.92 per cent rate. 

The city says another property tax increase was needed due to their costs over the last two years have skyrocketing, due to salary negotiations, inflation, and the cost of supporting other services in the community.

“You can't go anywhere right now without understanding that costs have gone up. I really feel strongly that is a prudent and responsible budget to put in front of the council and in front of members of the public,” says Chief Administrative Officer, Kyle Attanasio.

Councillor, Rory McMillan wants to make the public aware that the city has no control over the amounts Kenora is responsible to pay community services.

“I think it’s key to continue that out to the public and our communication, because when we say we don’t have any control over those costs, we literally do not [have any control], it’s legislated and the municipality has to pay it. If those costs were covered we would be fine,” says McMillan.

Attanasio says that the increase of supporting community services such as the Kenora OPP, Northwestern Health Unit, Kenora District Services, and the Pinecrest Home is only just over one per cent, which is worked out to just under a one per cent spike for residential tax rates.

Attanasio’s report from staff originally proposed a 3.32 tax levy increase for the community – representing about an $830,000 shortfall in the city’s budget.

Highlights from his report on the draft budget include $34.5 million in gross operating expenses, $28 million in operating expenses, a $3.7 million investment into city reserves, and about a $900,000 gain from investment returns.

But despite the city’s financial strengths, the draft budget is still calling for a property tax increase to offset recent inflation seen across Canada, as well as the ‘downloading’ of costs from the provincial and federal governments onto municipalities, and ultimately, its tax-base.

A report from April 24, 2022, says they’ll pay over $12.3 million to the OPP, Northwestern Health Unit, Kenora District Services Board and Pinecrest in 2022 – an increase of about $330,000 or 2.8 per cent compared to 2021’s rates. Net municipal program costs are also up about $1 million compared to 2021.

The city has already passed its capital budget, as well as operating and capital budgets for municipal services and utilities. The city’s operating budget is the last step in the municipal budgeting process.

The budget will be debated and voted on during Kenora’s May 17 Council meeting at City Hall.