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Winnipeggers say City should push for funding transfers, focus on essential services: Probe

 

Winnipeggers appear strongly opposed to hiking property taxes and say, instead, that the City of Winnipeg should look to higher levels of government for funding support and reduce its spending on less-essential services, a poll recently commissioned by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce says.

The Probe Research poll of 600 Winnipeggers found 88% of respondents favoured looking to provincial or federal governments for revenues to fund city programs and services, and 81% favoured a services review, so Winnipeg can focus on those services considered more essential.

Also, 58% said the City should hike business taxes, which is at odds with Winnipeg’s current practice; 5% strongly agreed and 25% somewhat agreed that property taxes should increase.

When asked which of the options – pushing for greater transfers; service review/reduce spending; tax increases – should be pursued as a strategy, the most popular was the service review.

“We believe that there is a lot of value in the feedback Winnipeggers are sending on the City’s dilemma – it simply doesn’t have the capacity to raise the revenues required for all the demands it faces,” MHCA President Chris Lorenc said.

“A service review is always good management practice, but the fact is that owning 50% of the public infrastructure means a municipality, especially larger cities, simply cannot alone afford to maintain or construct these assets.”

That requires a new fiscal deal with provincial and federal governments, he said. Currently, cost-shared infrastructure programs look to split project costs equally, which doesn’t recognize that cities only collect about 8 cents of every tax dollar.

The survey results are accurate ±4.0%.


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