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Budgets and Finances

Our budgets are strategic documents that support municipal service delivery and the achievement of Council's strategic priorities. Unlike provincial and federal government levels, municipalities are not allowed to budget for deficits. This means we must balance our annual budgets so that money coming in equals money going out.
This challenges us to find cost-effective, efficient, and sustainable solutions to funding our capital and operating expenses.

Based on community engagement and other resident input, Council establishes the city’s strategic priorities and service levels. Departmental work plans and supporting budgets are developed to achieve these initiatives and to support the ongoing operation of City facilities, services, and programs.

Our 2024 budgets

Under the new Strong Mayor Powers legislation, the budget was proposed by Mayor Bryan Paterson and provided to Council for their consideration, in accordance with Section 284.16 of the Municipal Act, 2001.

The Mayor’s proposed 2024 budget included: 

  • A municipal operating budget of $477 million 
  • A municipal capital budget of $131 million 
  • A 2.5 per cent property tax increase plus 1 per cent for capital investment, incorporating inflationary impacts, addressing growth pressures, and maintaining existing service levels.

Council amended the proposed budget to include an additional $1 million to support family physician recruitment as well as $40 thousand for additional crossing guards. 

The 3.5 per cent tax increase is one of the lowest property tax rate increases among Ontario cities with populations over 100,000.

The 2024 budget process was shaped by Council priorities outlined in the Strategic Plan. More specifically, staff were directed by the Mayor to prepare budgets based on the following criteria: 

  1. Prepare an operating and capital budget based on a property tax increase that is among the lowest of other large cities in Ontario, and that is no higher than 3.5%.
  2. Incorporate additional investments to expand housing options, provide new transit and recreation opportunities, facilitate the transition to electrification, and enable creative health care solutions for residents.
  3. Include sufficient investments for initiatives outlined in the Council-approved 2023-2026 Strategic Priorities and Implementation Plan.
  4. Pause the annual levy for the Green CIP program at 0.16% for the 2024 fiscal year.
  5. Continue public consultation for the 2024 annual budget and present a summary of feedback to Council for consideration with the proposed 2024 annual budget.
  6. Prepare a staff report and a draft 2024 annual budget for presentation by the Mayor to Council on or before January 15, 2024.

About operating and capital budgets

Budget planning is a collaborative effort between residents, council, and city staff. 

  • Resident input: Starts through community engagement to help council set our strategic priorities and service levels and continues through an annual budget engagement process, which gives residents the opportunity to provide input on the actual budget. 
  • Council directives: Mayor and council provide direction on strategic priorities, service levels, and fiscal guidelines. 
  • City staff: Our departments develop work plans and budgets to outline how they will achieve council priorities and support municipal programs and services.

The operating budget outlines what we will spend each year on programs and services such as transit, garbage and recycling collection, parks, recreation programs, and road maintenance. In addition to our annual operating budget, we set a three-year operating forecasts to help estimate and plan for future revenue and expenses.

The capital budget outlines our plans to fund and maintain capital assets like buses, snowplows, buildings, streets, pathways, and other infrastructure that supports the delivery of programs and services. In addition to our annual capital budget, we maintain fifteen-year capital expenditure plans and funding models. This helps us estimate and plan for costs related to maintaining, upgrading, and replacing our capital assets over their useful life.

Funds flow into the City from property taxes, federal and provincial grants, and user fees, which are outlined in our Fees & Charges Bylaw.

Operating funds are transferred to reserves and reserve funds to set aside monies to fund expenditures, similar to having personal savings accounts.

Capital reserve funds are used for capital expenditures by using:

  1. A pay-as-you-go method, where we take money from the reserve funds to pay for capital costs directly; or
  2. Through the issuance of debt, where we borrow money to pay for the capital costs and then use the reserve funds to pay future debt principal and interest charges

Reserve and reserve funds are also used to manage unanticipated expenses and to support the City’s long-term financial stability.

Municipal utilities operating budget 

Utilities Kingston, a separate corporation that is owned by the city, prepares budgets for municipal utilities including water, wastewater, fibre optic, and natural gas systems. These services are funded through user rates, not funded by property taxes. 

Our credit rating 

In October 2023, the City of Kingston received an outstanding AA+ credit rating with a stable outlook from S&P Global Ratings. This is the second highest rating that the agency can give a government. Our credit rating demonstrates our strong financial management practices and allows us to secure funds on the investment market at attractive interest rates.

Contact Us

City of Kingston
City Hall
216 Ontario Street
Kingston, ON K7L 2Z3
Canada
contactus@cityofkingston.ca
Phone: 613-546-0000
Fax: 613-546-7816

The City of Kingston acknowledges that we are on the traditional homeland of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee and the Huron-Wendat, and thanks these nations for their care and stewardship over this shared land.

Today, the City is committed to working with Indigenous peoples and all residents to pursue a united path of reconciliation.

Learn more about the City's reconciliation initiatives.

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