City of Cambridge 2024 Budget logo
The budget is the City's plan for the coming period, expressed in dollars. It is prepared taking into consideration community input and direction from City Council.

The budget is made up of three parts:

Operating Budget - Annual operations of City facilities and services, primarily funded through property taxes and user fees, excluding water and sewer.

Water and Sewer Budget - Annual operations of water and sewer distribution, funded through user rates.

Capital Budget - Capital program for all City projects, funded through taxes, water and sewer fees, development charges, debt, grants, or other reserve funds.

The 2024 Budget and Business Plan was approved on February 13, 2024. For a brief overview of the approved Budget and Business Plan, read the news release.

Read the Highlights of the 2024 Budget and Business Plan. 

The 2024 Budget and Business Plan provides the City’s direction in meeting its goals and objectives under the Strategic Plan, Cambridge Connected. This year, Council endorsed the strategic priorities for 2024 – 2026, which will guide our financial direction over the next three years. The budget highlights the City’s commitment to public value, through a concerted effort to maintain existing service levels, ensure the maintenance of existing infrastructure, and furthering the work towards our strategic actions.

The 2024 Capital Budget represents a $169.7 million investment in new infrastructure, the rehabilitation and replacement of existing infrastructure, and supports the overall growth of the City. The Operating Budget dedicates $165.4 million toward the cost of delivering over 140 programs and services, excluding water and sewer services.

Average Residential Impact

For the average home in Cambridge, the approved rate increases for the 2024 budget are:

  • The tax levy increase for the City of Cambridge is 7.17%. The City’s portion of the property tax bill is 36%, therefore this results in an impact of 2.58% to the overall tax bill. For the average home in Cambridge, this is an increase of $112 per year.
  • Water utilities (water and sewer) rates increased effective January 1, 2024, with an increase of 4.21% or $46 per year for the average household in Cambridge.

Read the 2024 Approved Budget and Business Plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do City budgets work?

The City’s budget is a roadmap that aligns the City’s priorities with the services it delivers to residents. The budget is a financial plan that outlines the amount of money the City will raise and spend for the coming year. It’s a planned itemized summary of money that is coming into a municipality and how that money is spent over the annual fiscal year.

 

The City’s budget is made up of three parts:

Operating Budget - Annual operations of City facilities and services, primarily funded through property taxes and user fees, excluding water and sewer. Pays for all the day-to-day activities of the City. E.g. salaries and wages, utilities, supplies, fuel, insurance, contracted services, debt payments, reserve fund contributions, etc. 

 

Capital Budget - Capital program for all City projects, funded through taxes, water and sewer fees, development charges, debt, grants, or other reserve funds. Pays for all the new large scale projects or rehabilitation of current assets that are under the City’s control.

 

Water Utility Budget - Annual operations of water and sewer distribution, in accordance with the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act, funded through user rates.

What is the new tax rate for Cambridge?
On February 13, Cambridge City Council approved the Budget and Business Plan for 2024 which includes a 7.17% tax rate increase for the City’s budget.
Are my taxes going up 7.17%?

The increase of 7.17% reflects the budget increase supported by the tax levy. For Cambridge taxpayers, since the City’s portion of the tax bill is only 36%, this represents a 2.58% increase to the overall residential tax bill. For a home with a tax assessed value of $333,200, this will mean an increase of approximately $112 per year, or $9.30 per month. 

Why are my property taxes going up?

Similar to households, cities are experiencing the same economic pressures due to inflation and the cost of living. For instance, while the current rate of inflation is 3.4%, the cost of things like gas and construction supplies which make up a large portion of the City’s budget remains higher.

Further to this, the City is building a new recreation complex and have included operating impacts in future years once the facility opens.  The City can’t reasonably provide services to new facilities within the rate of inflation.

Construction Price Index over past 3 years

Dissimilar to households, the City’s budget has expenditures that are beyond the scope of what a resident would normally pay as it is heavily impacted by the Building Construction Price Index. The City also must manage exceedingly higher than inflation construction costs, further driven by extended pandemic recoveries and ongoing supply chain issues. Over the past three years, the Construction Price Index average increase is 11.3% (2021 – 11.7%, 2022 - 15.6%, 2023 – 6.6%).

How and by when will annual property tax increases be brought back down to the level of inflation (i.e. in line with the growth in people’s incomes)? - property tax increases above the rate of inflation year after year are not sustainable
The City’s budget is more heavily impacted by the Building Construction Price Index rather than the Consumer Price Index.  The construction price index has increased by 39.7% over the past five years, compared to CPI which has increased by 16.7%.  Over the past five years the City’s budget tax levy has increased by 16.4% which is lower than both CPI and the Construction Price Index.
How are my property taxes used?

In a two-tier government, only 36% of property taxes are used to support over 140 services delivered by the City of Cambridge. The remainder of the tax bill is used to support services provided by the Region of Waterloo, such as waste management and public health (52%), as well as an education portion for local school boards (12%).

What will this tax increase be used for?

The key drivers for the 2024 Budget include:

  • Allocating $165 million toward the cost of delivering over 140 City services, excluding water and sewer services.
  • Investing $169.7 million in the rehabilitation and replacement of the City’s existing infrastructure valued at $3.8 billion to support continued growth.
  • Many of the initiatives contained in the 2024 Budget are also the continuation of important multi-year projects such as the Recreation Complex, Preston Auditorium, and the Fountain Street Soccer Complex.
  • The expansion of the Cambridge Sports Park arena complex with the opening of two new ice pads.
  • Continued investment in the growth and development of the City’s downtown areas.
  • Maintenance of additional parks and expanded recreation programming for children and youth.
  • Fire training programs to ensure the City’s first responders are expert in their knowledge and ability to respond in life-saving events.
  • Cemetery care and maintenance which is now expanded to the Blair Cemetery which serves as the resting place of Cambridge’s first mayor, Claudette Millar, and other notable Cambridge residents.
  • As well, the budget includes the implementation of a variety of initiatives like our 40km/h neighborhood speed limit which will occur over the next two years with new signage and an education campaign to educate the community.  As well, work is underway to develop a framework for a Road Safety Strategy which is expected to be implemented in 2025.  The strategy will aim to evaluate our current Levels of Service and identify opportunities for improvement.
  • Mobile security team offering 24/7 proactive patrol of parks and Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), along with alarm response to help combat prohibited activity, effectively addressing citizen complaints about unwanted activities in these areas.
  • Dedicated infrastructure levy calculated as 1% of the previous year’s tax levy which will be contributed to the Infrastructure Renewal Fund Reserve for the future rehabilitation costs of the City’s aging infrastructure. 
Why are 2024 municipal salaries, wages and benefits increasing over 2023?

Salaries and wages increase annually as per the City’s collective agreements with its various union groups.  In addition, the increase includes increases for newer staff as they gain experience and are progressing through salary grids towards job rate.  

City debt will rise from today’s $67 million to $255.8 million by 2027. Can we look at reducing the debt level by pushing some large projects out?

Some of this debt is funded through other sources, such as development charges paid by developers. Looking ahead, the 2024 Capital Budget forecasts debt financing of $139.7 million between 2024 and 2028, of which $87.2 million is to be funded through development charges and $52.5 million is to be funded through taxes.

Who pays for growth?

Development charges are used to offset the capital cost of increased infrastructure required due to population growth within the City resulting from new development. These one-time fees are charged to developers and home builders when they develop or build upon an area of land.

In a perfect scenario these growth fees pay for the growth costs, however that is not the reality. Rather, the development charges help to offset the capital costs which in turn most usually have a component that is a benefit to the existing community population. That percentage cannot be funded by the development charge fees and instead must be funded by the existing taxpayers either through increased taxation, use of reserves, or issued debt.

Additionally, the ongoing operating service costs and any future rehabilitation costs must be paid for by the tax base. The City’s practice has been to apply all the previous year’s growth in assessment dollars (growth tax levy) against the next years growth budget impact. The 2024 Operating Budget contains an offset of $2.37 million in new assessment growth.

Why are taxes going up if the City has money in investments?

The City’s held investments assisting in providing cash flow to fund projects, and the income on the investment (the returns) help to reduce the amount otherwise required from property taxation and user fees to finance City services, as well as increases the value of reserve funds used to finance future expenditures. The City’s policy is to invest all available funds of the Corporation in a prudent manner so as to maximize the rate of return while minimizing the degree of risk and ensuring an adequate level of liquidity.

The 2024 Budget contains $296,200 in investment income revenue which has been utilized to offset 100% of expenditures of a one-time nature. 

What is an infrastructure funding gap?

Municipalities across Ontario/Canada are facing financial challenges to maintain existing infrastructure which are either past their service life or later stage of the service life. Cambridge has significant gaps between the amount of money available each year and the amount needed to keep our infrastructure (e.g. roads, bridges, buildings) in good condition. For a growing community like the City of Cambridge there are many competing priorities such as preserving and protecting city owned heritage buildings, improve accessibility of city owned facilities, public spaces and how the residents are accessing services provided by the City, improving existing services such as fire prevention, indoor and outdoor recreation services for changing demographics, and many more.

As part of this year’s budget, there is an identified need to ensure we put money into maintaining the City’s $3.8 Billion of infrastructure in a good state of repair today, as delaying this would cause costlier repairs in the future. As we continue to delay these projects these infrastructure gap will grow over $300 Million by 2033.

For example, the City’s proposed roads infrastructure renewal rate for next five year is 5.2 km (reconstruction and resurfacing) each year, which is significantly below the target renewal rate of 13 km each year to keep the road condition in state of good repairs. Delaying these projects will increase potholes and will require increase staffing to patch roads, increased community frustration and potential damage to vehicles and resulting increased insurance claims.

How does Cambridge compare to other cities in the Region?

Here is a summary of approved tax rates across the region:

Region of Waterloo: 6.9%

City of Kitchener: (property tax – 3.9% + stormwater 7.1%) (approved December)

City of Waterloo: 6.14%

City of Cambridge: 7.1%

Township of Wilmot: 10.6%

Township of Woolwich: 8.68%

Township of Wellesley: 3.55%

Township of North Dumfries: 5.0%

How can I be involved in the budget each year?
During the budget process every year, the City provides an online engagement survey to collect feedback from the community to inform the budget process and determine the priorities of our residents. Residents can register through EngageCambridge to stay up to date on all opportunities to participate in City decision making, including the annual budget process.
Past budgets
View the following documents related to the past budgets:
2023 budget documents

2023 Budget

The 2023 Budget and Business Plan was approved on February 21, 2023. For a brief overview of the approved Budget and Business Plan, read the news release.

View the 2023 Approved Budget and Business Plan and the Budget 2023 Highlights.

The budget and business plan provides the City’s direction in meeting its goals and objectives under the newly updated Strategic Plan, Cambridge Connected. The budget highlights the City’s commitment to public value, through a concerted effort to bring tax and water rate increases within the rate of inflation while maintaining existing services and furthering the work towards our strategic actions.

The 2023 Capital Budget represents a $75 million investment in new infrastructure, the rehabilitation and replacement of existing infrastructure, and supports the overall growth of the City. The Operating Budget dedicates $150 million toward the cost of City services, excluding water and sewer services. And the Water Utility Budget includes $77 million towards the daily cost of running the water and wastewater utilities, including the purchase of clean water and wastewater treatment from the Region of Waterloo.

Average Residential Impact

For the average home in Cambridge, the approved rate increases for the 2023 budget are:

  • The tax levy increase for the City of Cambridge is 4.74%. The City’s portion of the property tax bill is 36%, therefore this results in an impact of 1.72% to the overall tax bill. For the average home in Cambridge, this is an increase of $71 per year.
  • Water utilities (water and sewer) rates increased effective January 1, 2023, with an increase of 3.90% or $47 per year for the average household in Cambridge.

2022 budget documents

2022 Budget

City Council approved the 2022 Budget and Business Plan: Our City. Our Future on Dec. 2, 2021.

The 2022 Capital Budget represents a $59 million investment in new infrastructure, the rehabilitation and replacement of existing infrastructure, and supports the overall growth of the city. The Operating Budget dedicates $133.4 million toward the cost of city services, excluding water and sewer services.

The 2022 Budget acts as a roadmap for ongoing COVID-19 recovery efforts and focuses on initiatives which invest in neighbourhoods and recreation facilities and supports local businesses and core areas.

2022 Budget Highlights

The budget is aligned with the strategic plan, Cambridge Connected, to clearly demonstrate how the City is meeting its goals. 

People

  • Investing $4.9 million for strategic initiatives to create and activate spaces that will offer more things for people to do such as the design of the Preston/Blair Pedestrian Bridge, the Arts & Culture master plan, and updated amenities at Soper Park.

  • Working towards obtaining a World Health Organization “Age-Friendly” designation.

  • Enhancing equity and inclusion efforts by developing action plans and strategies for Reconciliation, Diversity, and Older Adults.

Place

  • Laying the foundation for future community-building through a Growth Management Strategy, Phase 2 work on the North Cambridge Business Park, and Heritage Character Studies for the Galt core and East Galt, as well as Heritage Conservation District Study in Hespeler.
  • Enhancing opportunities to enjoy built and natural heritage through the Parks Master Plan, and the first phase of the Heritage Condition Assessments of City properties.

Prosperity

  • Enabling small businesses to succeed through the development of an Economic Development Strategy and Municipal Accommodation Tax Strategy.
  • Establishing our core areas as attractive destinations with a Financial Incentive Program and continuing with the implementation of the Core Area Transformation Fund. 
  • Taking action to combat climate change with a Carbon Reduction Feasibility Study, Green House Gas Reduction Monitoring, a Green Fleet Strategy, and LED light replacements.
  • Preparing for emergency prevention and recovery through Emergency Response Planning, Continuity of Operations Planning, a Master Fire Plan Review, and Cyber Security Risk Management.
  • Promoting and developing more transportation options with a Cycling Master Plan, Transportation Master Plan, and design work for the Blair/Preston Pedestrian Bridge.

Household Impacts

The approved 2022 Budget represents an increase of 4.24 per cent, which equals approximately $61/year for the average household. The Preston Auditorium design represents 1.2 per cent of the increase.

Council also approved a water utility increase of 2.39 per cent ($29/year) which is well below the original projection of 3.9 per cent in the approved long-range financial plan.

View the 2022 Budget and Business Plan and the Budget 2022 highlights.

2021 budget documents

2021 Budget

On December 2, 2020 Cambridge City Council approved the 2021 Budget and Business Plan, concluding the 2021 Budget process. 

Council approved a property tax increase of 1.27 per cent, which is less than the forecasted cost of inflation, and represents $17.95/year for the average household. It is the lowest tax rate in the City of Cambridge in the last decade. Council also voted to keep water utility rates the same in 2021. 

The 2021 capital portion of the budget represents a $61.9 million investment for new infrastructure and to support growth of the city, as well as the rehabilitation and replacement of existing infrastructure. The operating portion dedicates $124,736,000 towards the daily costs of running city services, excluding water and sewer services. 

Most of the initiatives contained in the 2021 Budget are the continuation of key multi-year projects. This includes the design of the recreation complex, construction of the Preston Auditorium and Fountain Street Soccer complex, trail improvements, stormwater infrastructure renewal, the Beverly Street pedestrian underpass design and other road work. These community investments will assist with increasing private sector job creation and local economic recovery.

The City will also continue to focus on emergency and pandemic preparedness, community wellbeing and safety, and supporting local businesses. 

 2021 approved budget documents

2020 budget documents

2020 Budget

The 2020 Budget and Business Plan, Investing in Our City, Invested in Our Citizens, includes the City's operating, water utility and capital budgets. The budget is presented in alignment with our strategic plan to clearly demonstrate how we're meeting our goals as a city. We are committed to the responsible allocation of tax dollars to ensure that our community is receiving the best possible services and that our city is moving forward in a progressive and innovative manner.

Budget documents

The 2020 Water Utility Budget and Capital Budget were approved by the Budget and Audit Committee in December 2019 and the 2020 Operating Budget was approved by Council in February 2020, concluding the 2020 Budget process.

The Capital Budget represents a $50.9 million investment for new infrastructure and to support growth of the city as well as the rehabilitation and replacement of existing infrastructure, while the Operating budget dedicates $124.2 million towards the daily costs of running city services, excluding water and sewer services.

Please see investment highlights.

2020 Budget and Business plan: Key Investments

  • Dedicating $51.6 million of capital investment in our city’s core infrastructure – including our roads, our recreation facilities, and our parks.
  • Investing $200,000 in a new traffic calming program to ensure public safety.
  • Upgrading over 3 km of city roads to be reconstructed to improve aging infrastructure.
  • Allocating $20 million under the Business Plan for the Core Areas Transformation Fund to help drive change in Hespeler, Galt, and Preston
  • Moving forward on design/engineering for important projects like the Fountain Street Soccer Park, the new Cambridge Recreation Complex, and the Preston Auditorium expansion.
  • Investing $204,000 for new and redeveloped multi-use trails throughout our city
  • Investing in our cemeteries, including building a new columbarium in Parklawn Cemetery
  • Replacing the pedestrian bridge and trail connection behind Galt Collegiate Institute.
  • Investing $265,000 for improvements to both Hespeler and Galt Arena
  • Developing and building a brand-new city park – Highland Ridge Park
  • Investing $170,000 for new play structures in two city parks - Gail St. Park and Northview Heights Lookout Park

Household Impacts

The approved overall 2020 Budget increased by 3.73 per cent. Please note that the City’s portion of your overall tax bill is 36 per cent, with the Region of Waterloo and local school board portions making up the remainder (64 per cent). Once the regional and education portions of the tax bill are included, the City’s tax levy increase will raise the overall property taxes paid by 1.34 per cent for the average household.

  • Property tax increase: $51/year
  • Water utilities increase: $39/year 
  • Total impact: $90/year
 2019 budget documents

2019 Approved Budget

The approved 2019 budget includes the City's operating, water utility and capital budgets. The budget is presented in alignment with our strategic plan to clearly demonstrate how we're meeting our goals as a city. We are committed to the responsible allocation of tax dollars to ensure that our community is receiving the best possible services and that our city is moving forward in a progressive and innovative manner. 

The 2019 approved rate changes and impact to the homeowner are calculated on an average house cost of $310,200.

The approved 2019 rate changes are:

  • Property tax increase is 2.38 per cent or $31.70 annually.
  • Water utility increase is 4.31 per cent or $48 annually.

The total impact annually on the average household is $79.70.

The approved 2019 budget summary and details are available below.

Read the 2019 Budget in Brief

View the Budget Info Series presentation 

Review the 2019 Budget Summary and Details

 

 2018 budget documents

2018 Multi-year Budget

View the 2018 Multi-Year Budget.

View the 2018 Draft Budget Summary Report for an overview of the 2018 multi-year budget. The Summary Report also includes potential impacts for the 2019 and 2020 budget forecasts.

2018 Operating Budget

View the following documents to learn more about the 2018 Operating Budget:

2018 Water and Sewer Budget

View Appendix D: 2018-2020 Water and Sewer Operating Budget and Forecast Details for more information.

2018 Capital Budget

View Appendix F: 2018-2027 Capital Project Details to learn more.

2018 Municipal Fees and Charges

The City's Fees and Charges outline the user fees for various city services. Council reviews and approves the Municipal Fees and Charges as part of the annual budget process.

View Appendix E: 2018 - 2020 Fees and Charges for a list of all fees for 2018, along with their 2019 and 2020 forecasts.

If you require an accessible version of the budget documents, please contact Accessibility Planning and Inclusion Services.