City Hall Working To Get Brandon’s Finances Back On Track

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The City of Brandon is taking sustainability actions to help get the city’s finances back on track over the coming years by striking a balance between affordability and sustainability – and calling on other levels of government to cover their fair share.

One of City Council’s strategic goals is to look at alternate sources of revenue to help get Brandon’s finances back on track. With that goal in mind, the City contracted a sustainability report by one of Canada’s leading professional services company MNP. This report finds that low taxes and efficient operations are major strengths for Brandon, with Brandon households paying taxes 47% below the average of all cities MNP compared.

After many years of low taxes, Brandon needs to adjust its course. MNP found that Brandon’s 2024 increase in municipal taxes could be unreasonably high if the City doesn’t take action to adjust the balance between taxation and its capital commitments.

“Mayor Jeff Fawcett is committed to keeping taxes low and continuing to deliver clean water, safe policing, and a livable city. The Mayor has given City Hall clear direction: we’re taking action to keep the 2024 tax rate reasonable. We will avoid the worst-case-scenario in the MNP report by taking a smart, balanced approach to rebuilding Brandon’s finances, and rebuilding the City’s infrastructure. It took us 20 years to get into the tight financial position we’re in now, and it won’t be fixed in one budget,” said Ron Bowles, City Manager and Chief Administrative Officer.

Bowles said revenues from other partners are a part of the solution.

“We are considering increasing developer-paid development cost charges (DCC). We are finding other sources of revenue to take the pressure off property taxes. We are staying efficient and lean, but while City Hall is doing our part, we need other levels of government to do theirs,” said Bowles. “For seven years, the Province of Manitoba froze municipal funding. Our clean water system, snowplows, and other critical infrastructure aged and inflation soared while provincial funding was stagnant. Funding was unfrozen in early 2023, thanks in large part to advocacy from the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, but the province hasn’t made up for what was lost. It’s Brandon’s belief that the province needs to cover its fair share.”

Mayor Fawcett said he’s given the City team clear direction to present a budget that’s focused on being balanced and phased in over several years.

“Brandon families need and deserve both affordability and sustainability,” said Fawcett. “We are going to work hard to develop other revenue sources and dig deep with our partners at the provincial and federal levels to make sure they are taking on their fair share.

Brandon is one of the most livable cities in Canada, and we’re going to make sure it stays that way for generations to come.”

Mayor Fawcett and City Council have a stellar track record when it comes to working with the Province of Manitoba, Government of Canada, and industry partners to secure funding for Brandon while taking financial pressure off Brandon ratepayers. That includes wins like over $103 million from the provincial and federal governments for the water treatment plant expansion, almost $11 million from the provincial government for the Keystone Centre, $9 million from the provincial and federal governments for transitional housing, $2.2 million more for policing and safe communities from the provincial government, $2.2 million for paramedics to put Brandon’s third ambulance on the road from the provincial government, and $2 million for a Sobering Assessment Centre from the provincial government. In addition, a naming rights deal for the now Maple Leaf Foods Sports Complex was secured from industries including Maple Leaf Foods and Heritage Co-op.