How the budget works

Learn about our budget cycles, what guides our budget decisions and the difference between operating and capital budgets.

On this page

  1. Learn about our budget cycles
  2. What guides our budget priorities
  3. Learn the difference between operating and capital budgets

Learn about our budget cycles

We carefully plan our budget to provide valuable services to residents. In Waterloo, there are 2 different budget cycles during a 4-year term of city council:

  • year 1 — council approved a single-year budget covering 2023 on February 13, 2023
  • year 2 — council will approve a three-year budget covering 2024 to 2026 on February 12, 2024

What guides our budget priorities

Our strategic plan and community feedback guide our budget priorities. City staff then develop business plans that reflect these priorities. The business plans inform the final budget presented to council.

The Core Consumer Price Index Policy (CPIX), which uses CPIX as a guide for tax increases, also informs our budget.

Staff recommend a tax increase to council based on our strategic plan, community feedback and CPIX-related policy. Council reviews this recommendation, which they may adjust.

Learn the difference between capital and operating budgets

Council decides on the city's capital and operating budgets after public consultation and business plan presentations.

Our capital budget covers new investments, replacing assets like roads and city facilities, or buying new vehicles.

Our operating budget covers day-to-day activities such as fuel, insurance, utilities, supplies and salaries. It also considers the Core Consumer Price Index Policy.

To learn more about Waterloo's budget cycle, watch our video below.

Explaining budget on Vimeo from the City of Waterloo