Waterloo council cuts down tax increase, approves three-year budget

The 2024-2026 budget plan has been set in the City of Waterloo.

Council deliberated for over five hours Monday and agreed to an operating budget of $99.6 million in 2024 with a tax hike of 6.1 per cent. That’s an increase on the average home’s annual property tax bill of $91.

The initial proposal from city staff was tabled with a property tax increase of 7.5 per cent in 2024 or $110 more per average household.

2024-2026 budget tabled by staff.
2024-2026 budget tabled by staff. / City of Waterloo

However, staff were also directed to provide a list of reduction options to bring down the tax increase. These options included suggestions like deferring capital spending on infrastructure, delaying staffing additions by one year and a more aggressive investment plan. If all 12 were approved, the tax levy change would have been just under six per cent or $88 per average household.

The end result was pretty close, but some councillors could not get on board with every reduction item.

“The menu items that are decreasing the budget could potentially create new pressures or new challenges,” said Ward 2 Councillor Royce Bodaly. “If we operate too lean, we are becoming too risky as a municipality and if we turn a blind eye to all [of Waterloo’s] challenges, then we are simply kicking the can down the road and burdening future generations.”

City council also helped reduce the 2025 tax increase from 7.3 per cent to 6.3 per cent (average increase of $99 per household), while the proposed hike of 6.4 per cent for 2026 remains the same (average increase of $107 per household).

“The adjustments we were able to make to the staff-tabled budget provide respectful consideration for the financial challenges we are all facing,” said Councillor Diane Freeman. “And it will still allow us to make progress on the important issues, including infrastructure investment and reinvestment, housing, and climate action.”

You can watch the full council meeting here.

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