Budget 2019 - 2021

Text - Preparing for Budget 2019-2021. Our City Our Future with logo

Budget 2019-2021 approved by Council on December 10, 2018

The City is planning for its next three-year budget in a time of significant change in the economy and shifting demographics. As well, several factors are increasing our operating costs from increases in electricity, fire protection, and debt servicing charges, to name a few.

The City has been working aggressively to find ways to operate more efficiently (from program review in 2016 to our current continuous improvement efforts) and Council is committed to keeping our human resources costs under control, to aggressively address the problem of rising power rates and to focus on stability through partnerships with community and government organizations.

However, with the slowing of the economy and the expected reduction in assessed values for 2019, to balance the budget (a requirement by law), with no decrease in services, the City is projecting residential and commercial mill rate increases.

Review the materials on this page including videos which help outline what we are doing and some of the challenges we are facing. Check out our property tax calculator to see what this could mean for your household’s municipal tax bill. Check out the detailed breakdown of 2019 budget costs and the overview of capital spending in the documents library.

Budget 2019-2021 approved by Council on December 10, 2018

The City is planning for its next three-year budget in a time of significant change in the economy and shifting demographics. As well, several factors are increasing our operating costs from increases in electricity, fire protection, and debt servicing charges, to name a few.

The City has been working aggressively to find ways to operate more efficiently (from program review in 2016 to our current continuous improvement efforts) and Council is committed to keeping our human resources costs under control, to aggressively address the problem of rising power rates and to focus on stability through partnerships with community and government organizations.

However, with the slowing of the economy and the expected reduction in assessed values for 2019, to balance the budget (a requirement by law), with no decrease in services, the City is projecting residential and commercial mill rate increases.

Review the materials on this page including videos which help outline what we are doing and some of the challenges we are facing. Check out our property tax calculator to see what this could mean for your household’s municipal tax bill. Check out the detailed breakdown of 2019 budget costs and the overview of capital spending in the documents library.

  • Clarity on Commercial Taxes

    5 months ago

    Since the release and approval of this year’s budget for 2019, there has been public discussion and debate about the tax burden for local business operators. On behalf of members of Council, we would like to clarify some key points.

    Firstly, the City does not collect ‘business tax’, per se. In 2013, occupancy and property taxes for businesses were blended into one tax that is charged to commercial property owners only. Under this scenario, the property owner receives a tax bill and may distribute a portion of this cost onto the tenant.

    Included in the category of ‘commercial property owner’...

    Since the release and approval of this year’s budget for 2019, there has been public discussion and debate about the tax burden for local business operators. On behalf of members of Council, we would like to clarify some key points.

    Firstly, the City does not collect ‘business tax’, per se. In 2013, occupancy and property taxes for businesses were blended into one tax that is charged to commercial property owners only. Under this scenario, the property owner receives a tax bill and may distribute a portion of this cost onto the tenant.

    Included in the category of ‘commercial property owner’ is a very broad range of properties: vacant commercial land; shopping centres; large and small office buildings; owner-occupied small businesses; restaurants and fast food locations; apartment buildings; and properties that are mixed use with both residential and commercial purposes – to name just a few. They range from multi-million-dollar commercial enterprises to moderate business establishments to small operations.

    Some have asked for us to provide average tax increase number for 2019. Due to the wide variety of property types and the nature of how they distribute their taxation to tenants, we think it is more valuable to provide a range of property tax bill increases.

    Below is a list of how many commercial property owners will see increases of varying ranges:

    • 14 per cent of commercial properties owners will experience no increase or a reduction in taxes

    • 34 per cent will have an increase of $1000 or less a year

    • 29 per cent will see increases between $1000 and $3500 in 2019

    • 23 per cent will have an annual increase of more than $3500

    In the last fifteen years, the City has maintained an approximate 3 to1 tax ratio, with commercial property owners contributing just over three-times the tax as residential property owners. This is no doubt a heavy burden, but it is not in fact unusual, especially in comparison with other municipalities in this province or with other capital cities in Atlantic Canada.

    We have maintained the commercial vacancy allowance, which was put in place in 2013 when the taxes were first blended to give commercial property owners relief from taxes when they experience vacancies in their properties.

    We have committed to look closely at how we support the business community through such initiatives as reducing or eliminating development fees and ongoing meetings with business groups through our City Business Roundtable, with whom we hope to meet in the coming week.

    Council Statement from Mayor Danny Breen and Councillor Dave Lane, December 13, 2018


  • Budget 2019-2021 presented

    5 months ago

    The City of St. John’s released the details of Budget 2019, the first year in a three-year budget plan for 2019-2021.

    “Revenues and expenditures are balanced at $304,677,022, up 2.4 per cent from 2018,” said Councillor Dave Lane, lead Councillor for the City’s Finance and Administration portfolio. “Our goal is to provide high quality services and valuable programs in a fiscally responsible manner, and we are pleased that we are able to present a budget that anticipates no reduction in services in this fiscal year.”

    To present a balanced budget for 2019, the mill rate for residential owners will...

    The City of St. John’s released the details of Budget 2019, the first year in a three-year budget plan for 2019-2021.

    “Revenues and expenditures are balanced at $304,677,022, up 2.4 per cent from 2018,” said Councillor Dave Lane, lead Councillor for the City’s Finance and Administration portfolio. “Our goal is to provide high quality services and valuable programs in a fiscally responsible manner, and we are pleased that we are able to present a budget that anticipates no reduction in services in this fiscal year.”

    To present a balanced budget for 2019, the mill rate for residential owners will be set at 7.7, up .4 from the 2018 mill rate; commercial property tax will be based on a mill rate of 26.1, up 1.4 from 2018. Water taxes will increase by $25, from $580 in 2018 to $605 in 2019.

    Key themes in Budget 2019 include sustainability, efficiency, continuous improvement, community connections and the economy.

    As part of the budget presentation, Councillor Lane announced plans to develop a new sustainability Plan for the City of St. John’s. “Every decision Council makes impacts sustainability, today and into the future,” explained Councillor Lane. “The new plan will consider energy efficiency, protection of our wetlands and trees, density, the cost of urban sprawl and infill development incentives, among others.”

    Operating efficiently and effectively without impacting services are key principles considered by Council in Budget 2019-2021. Feedback gathered through an unprecedented, year-long public engagement process was carefully considered, including opinions expressed through the City’s Satisfaction Survey, conducted early in 2018.

    “We commit to residents and property owners our promise to manage their tax dollars as effectively and efficiently as possible,” said Councillor Lane. “Recognizing that costs will continue to rise over the next two years of this three-year plan, we will work diligently to ensure that any increases in tax are minimized and services are maintained.”


  • Residential and Commercial Assessments now Available

    6 months ago

    Beginning November 26, 2018, owners of both residential and commercial properties can access their 2019 assessed values online. Assessments are also being mailed to property owners and should begin arriving this week.

    As predicted, residential property values are down slightly overall, with the total residential roll dropping by 4.17 percent. Commercial properties, on the other hand, are up slightly by 1.72 per cent.

    Total municipal property values have decreased overall from $15.9 billion to $15.5 billion for 2019.

    Assessed values are an important factor in determining individual property tax bills. On December 10, 2018, Council will announce the mill...

    Beginning November 26, 2018, owners of both residential and commercial properties can access their 2019 assessed values online. Assessments are also being mailed to property owners and should begin arriving this week.

    As predicted, residential property values are down slightly overall, with the total residential roll dropping by 4.17 percent. Commercial properties, on the other hand, are up slightly by 1.72 per cent.

    Total municipal property values have decreased overall from $15.9 billion to $15.5 billion for 2019.

    Assessed values are an important factor in determining individual property tax bills. On December 10, 2018, Council will announce the mill rates for 2019. To determine property tax, the mill rate is applied to the assessed value.

    “In September, we anticipated a mill rate increase of between .4 and .6, and we have been working over the past months to identify as many opportunities for savings as possible,” said Councillor Lane. “Based on early predictions and a review of property values, the majority of home owners could have a tax increase of less than $10 a month. The individual impact on commercial property owners is much more varied given the wider nature of properties involved.”


  • What We Heard About Managing Waste

    6 months ago

    During public engagement sessions, some residents questioned how the City could achieve savings in our waste and recycling program. Suggestions included reducing the amount of times we collect garbage and recycling; encouraging residents to divert more waste from the landfill through better recycling programs; and charging a fee to use the Residential Drop Off at Robin Hood Bay.

    Here are some answers to common questions about waste management


    During public engagement sessions, some residents questioned how the City could achieve savings in our waste and recycling program. Suggestions included reducing the amount of times we collect garbage and recycling; encouraging residents to divert more waste from the landfill through better recycling programs; and charging a fee to use the Residential Drop Off at Robin Hood Bay.

    Here are some answers to common questions about waste management


  • What We Heard Released

    6 months ago

    Nov. 12, 2018 - Today, the City of St. John’s released the findings of its public engagement process for Budget 2019-2021. Over 1,000 pieces of feedback were reviewed and compiled into 15 key themes.

    “On behalf of Council I would like to thank everyone who took the time to provide their input on this important topic,” said Councillor Dave Lane, Council lead on Finance and Administration. “From attending public meetings to commenting online, we have received a tremendous response to budget planning for the next three years and we feel confident that we have a good understanding of public perspectives.”

    Read the summary documents and provide your feedback on what was heard here.


    Nov. 12, 2018 - Today, the City of St. John’s released the findings of its public engagement process for Budget 2019-2021. Over 1,000 pieces of feedback were reviewed and compiled into 15 key themes.

    “On behalf of Council I would like to thank everyone who took the time to provide their input on this important topic,” said Councillor Dave Lane, Council lead on Finance and Administration. “From attending public meetings to commenting online, we have received a tremendous response to budget planning for the next three years and we feel confident that we have a good understanding of public perspectives.”

    Read the summary documents and provide your feedback on what was heard here.


  • Executive Report on Revenue and Expenditure, 2017

    7 months ago

    The City of St. John’s 2017 Executive Summary Report on Revenue and Expenditure was presented at the regular meeting of St. John’s City Council on October 15, 2018 by Councillor Dave Lane, lead councillor for Finance and Administration. The Executive Summary report, while still based on audited information, is reported using the cash basis method of accounting and allows for direct comparison of budget vs actual results which serves to ensure the City is open and transparent in its financial planning and reporting.

    “The report for 2017 shows a surplus of $3,075,597,” explained Councillor Lane. “This surplus equates to...

    The City of St. John’s 2017 Executive Summary Report on Revenue and Expenditure was presented at the regular meeting of St. John’s City Council on October 15, 2018 by Councillor Dave Lane, lead councillor for Finance and Administration. The Executive Summary report, while still based on audited information, is reported using the cash basis method of accounting and allows for direct comparison of budget vs actual results which serves to ensure the City is open and transparent in its financial planning and reporting.

    “The report for 2017 shows a surplus of $3,075,597,” explained Councillor Lane. “This surplus equates to 1.04 per cent of the City’s total gross adjusted budget of $296,605,853.”

    Overall, revenues exceeded the budget by 12.26M, or 4.13 per cent of the gross adjusted revenue budget of $296,605,853, while actual expenditures exceeded budget by $9.18M, or 3.1 per cent of the gross adjusted expenditure, resulting in a surplus. The gross adjusted budget reflects changes that happen throughout the year – the biggest of which is transfers from the City’s reserves. Excluding these items, the overall revenue variance is $2.44M, favourable, or 0.82 per cent of gross revenue. The comparable expenditure variance adjusts from unfavorable of $9.18M, to a favorable $634K, or 0.21 per cent.

    Breakdown of variances in revenue and expenditures is in the attached Executive Summary Report.

    “Given that the City is projecting a deficit in 2019, a surplus from 2017 will certainly be a benefit,” explained Councillor Lane. “Applying this surplus - plus funds held in reserve from previous years -towards reducing our pension debt provides both immediate and long-term benefits to the tax payer.”

    The City will pay down $6M of its pension debt which will result in the elimination of payments from future operating budgets as follows:

    2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
    $1,590,000 $1,590,000 $1,590,000 $1,590,000 $397,500


    This is a total reduction of $6,757,500. Given the initial contribution by the City is $6M, this results in interest savings to taxpayers of $757,500.

    This approach reduces the City’s net debt, reduces interest costs, and provides some mil rate relief by permanently reducing the projected operating budget deficits. The City still holds an additional $6M in reserve as protection against unforeseen events, contingencies and emergencies. The option of investing some of the surplus in energy saving programs/technologies may also be explored.


  • Understanding the Budget

    8 months ago