Various fees and charges are set each year to help the City recover some of the cost of providing services in the community. For example, fees are in place to rent ice time, go swimming, ride transit and be a member of the Veiner Centre. Fees for some services are set at or near full cost recovery, while other services are highly subsidized.
Following approval of the 2015/16 budget, City Council directed that the process for determining Public Services fees be reviewed. City staff worked to:
- determine the full cost of providing services
- develop a model and process to determine the appropriate levels of subsidization of individual services
This work included a review of leading practices toward establishing fees and charges for public services. The City’s Arts and Heritage Advisory Board, Social Development Advisory Board, Urban Environment and Recreation Advisory Board and Youth Advisory Board were consulted as the work progressed.
In December 2016, City Council adopted the Subsidy Levels and User Fees for Public Services Policy (add link). Three of the policy principles are:
- Individuals or groups who specifically benefit from a particular Public Service should pay for the good or service.
- When a Public Service benefits a broader community, or society as a whole, then all residents should pay, to some degree, for such a benefit.
- Understanding the full cost of a program or service is the starting point for the establishment of an appropriate user fee structure
The Public Services fees and charges pyramid model is used to reasonably and objectively establish Public Services subsidy levels. The model helps differentiate the degree of benefit to the community as a whole and the benefit to the individual.
At the same time, the Public Service Fair Entry Policy was approved to provide reasonable access to Public Services for all residents regardless of ability to pay. Those residents who demonstrate an inability to pay the established user fees may be subsidized to a greater extent.Adoption of the policy and model has required adjustments to many subsidy levels. Phase-in plans have been developed for those subsidy levels which will decrease greater than 20 per cent to mitigate impact on user groups. The projected incremental revenue increase for the City is $540,000 in 2018.