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Taxes are up surprisingly little for Winkler residents in 2019, says Winkler Mayor Martin Harder, even as the city undertakes a major recreation facility build.

"I thought the impact would be greater than it actually is... I think it's really minimal," Harder says, adding it's thanks in part to good debt management and healthy reserves.

Harder also praised city department heads for tightening their belts ahead of the Meridian Exhibition Centre project. "When we have a major project in any one area the other ones have to give some up," Harder says. "Everybody else knew that recreation was going to have their day, and this year happens to be the day. Everybody else had to sit back and say, 'Okay no. I can't hire more people, or no I can't buy this piece of equipment. We have to make do with what we've got.'"

City Council unveiled its $17 million 2019 budget this week, a five percent increase over last year.

For residents with a home valued at $210,000, taxes will rise by approximately 6 percent to $1,373 ($75 more than last year).

However, for businesses valued at $500,000, taxes are down nearly 3 percent to $4,343 ($118 less than last year) due to the city privatizing waste collection services.

Harder adds the city has cleared up most outstanding debt ahead of the Meridian Exhibition Centre. Of the city's current $19 million in debt, the arena and exhibition centre project accounts for $16.44 million.

"We're in as good a shape as any to be able to tackle this project and feel good about it."

Meanwhile, he notes reserves sit comfortably at $10 million.

While it won't have an impact in 2019, Harder says a $11 million bill for Winkler's portion of a regional waste water treatment facility remains on the horizon. He estimates, if approved by the Provincial and Federal governments, the project may only break ground in 2020 or beyond.

View the full budget here.

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