Winnipeg's new city budget cannot be tabled until the province clarifies funding for this year.
This was announced by Mayor Brian Bowman, speaking after the first meeting of the executive committee in 2019. He noted that he had not received any notification of the province’s financing from the Pallister government.
As the mayor noted, the budget should have been drafted next month, but now its adoption will be postponed. Bowman wants to get a written funding commitment from the provincial government to understand what funds the Winnipeg budget can count on.
“We’ve communicated with the province … requesting clarity regarding provincial funding so that we can build our budget with greater certainty with the information that we require to build a budget,” Bowman said. “We haven’t been provided with that information so we have indicated to the province as well as council that we will be delaying the tabling and passing the budget, moving it to March.”
Bowman requested information on financing back in December at the meeting with the provincial government, but it has not yet been received. In case of further delays, the mayor plans to build a budget on the basis of flat funding.
“We spend much of the year doing backflips trying to reconcile accounts,” Bowman said. “This isn’t bird box. We should be taking our blindfolds off and we should know with greater certainty, in advance, what we’re dealing with so we can make more informed decisions for the benefit of the taxpayers we serve.”
According to the mayor, the province should receive more than $200 million from the federal budget in the form of equalization payments in 2019. “They province generally knows in advance of their budget what federal supports are coming in,” Bowman said. “It should be the same for municipalities. Not having that information, it’s simply not ideal.”
After his re-election, Brian Bowman promised to approve and adopt the city budget in February to give Winnipeg a significant advantage in concluding contracts, especially construction contracts. Now he does not see any special problems in postponing the budget. “I don’t think a few weeks will be substantive, so I don’t want to overstate it,” Bowman said.
The mayor promised to give the exact date of the budget presentation later.