On December 21, 2015 City Council put Windsor taxpayers first by finding the necessary savings to ensure the total property tax levy remains unchanged from 2015 levels, making 2016 the eighth straight year City administration and Council have worked together to deliver a zero percent tax increase (to the budget).
This unprecedented streak of zero percent increases began in 2009, after the City of Windsor was hit hard by the global recession. In 2009, Windsor’s unemployment rate reached its highest mark at 15.7 percent and City Council believed that increasing taxes would only increase the financial burden most families in the City faced.
Although Windsor’s unemployment rate has decreased significantly since 2009, many residents are still looking for work and continue to struggle to make ends meet. It is with these Windsorites in mind that City Council has continued its commitmentto fiscal responsibility.
There are many necessary costs that continue to rise, which cannot be controlled at the municipal level, such as electricity rates or the price of food, so City Council has avoided adding to the burden by containing the one cost it can control.
Zero percent increases are only one portion of an overarching narrative of fiscal responsibility over the past eight years. Though the property tax levy has not increased, the City has found ways to do more with the taxes it does collect.
One of the City’s major achievements over these eight years is its debt reduction.Windsor’s debt peaked in 2002 at $229.4M and sat at $190.4M in 2008. Since 2009, the City’s has been able to pay down a portion of its overall debt each year, nearly cutting its debt in half to $98.2M. The City of Windsor will continue to reduce its long term debt, which is projected to decline to $78M by 2018.
Another major achievement is the fact that the City of Windsor’s funding for capital projects and infrastructure has actually increased during this period of tax restraint. Windsor has been successful in attaining provincial and federal infrastructure grants, which allow the City to tackle more infrastructure projects.
The 2016 Budget itself had several major achievements that are especially noteworthy in the context of a zero percent tax increase. To ensure a certain quality of life for residents, City Council ensured that service levels would remain the same and that no services were cut.
This has been increasingly difficult to deliver as many of the inputs to delivering a service continue to increase in cost.
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