Budget Basics

Every year, Niagara Region creates a budget that outlines how much money we need to pay for programs, services and infrastructure that are important to our community.

Think of it as a big financial plan that explains how your tax dollars and utility fees are invested to support essential services across Niagara.

How the Region gets money

Funding for the budget comes from these sources.

  • Property taxes

    Money is collected on the Regional portion of your property taxes through the general tax levy and special tax levy (Waste Management and Transit).

    General tax levy

    • Same level of service available across Niagara
    • One tax rate for all of Niagara

    Special tax levy

    • Different level of service across all cities / towns in Niagara
    • Twelve different rates (one per city / town based on the service level)

    Both taxes are set by Niagara Region.

  • Grants, subsidies and recoveries

    Money is received from Federal and Provincial funding, as well as from local area municipalities for capital works that are done on municipal owned assets.

  • Water and wastewater rates

    Niagara Region sells water to the municipalities at a rate of 25 per cent for fixed cost and 75 per cent based on projected usage.

    The municipalities buy the treated water at a wholesale rate from the Region and then resell it to their residents.

    Residents get a water bill directly from their city / town with an amount that is determined and set by the city / town.

  • Reserves

    Reserves are established by Regional Council and can help with changes to the economy, unexpected events and emergencies, and funding for capital projects.

    The money in reserves can come from:

    • Budget surpluses
    • Proceeds of sold assets
    • Development charges
    • Property tax levies or other revenue

    Reserves are like a savings account where you set aside a little bit of money every pay cheque to help pay for:

    • Unforeseen expenses, such as an unexpected car repair
    • Large items in the future, such as a new roof for your home
  • Other revenue

    Niagara Region also collects additional revenue through other fees and charges for services and activities provided by the Region.

    Learn about:

How the Region spends money

The money that comes in pays for the overall budget, which is made up of two parts:

  • Operating Budget covers the day-to-day expenses needed to deliver many programs and services, such as child care, paramedics, police, seniors services and waste collection. Expenses include items like gas, utilities, office supplies and staff wages.
  • Capital Budget invests in long-term assets, such as building new infrastructure and maintaining roads, water treatment plants, buildings and machinery. These are known as capital projects.

For example, the Operating Budget is like your monthly personal expenses, such as food, clothing, cell phone and gas. The Capital Budget is like your major life investments, such as buying a home, renovating your business and buying a new vehicle.

How the Region spends the money is determined by Council's Strategic Priorities and feedback from Niagara residents.

2024 Budget

To meet the needs of the community, our 2024 Budget includes a 7.02 property tax increase.

That means for an average property in Niagara assessed at $298,000, the Regional portion of property taxes will increase by $131 for a total of $1,989 in 2024.

Learn about the 2024 Budget.

Understanding the budget

  • Where your taxes and rate fees are spent

    All Regional services are divided into the appropriate budget based on where the money comes from.

    The money you pay through the Regional portion of your property taxes and water / wastewater rates pays for the general tax levy, special tax levy, and water and wastewater expenses in the Operating Budget.

    The general tax levy pays for:

    • Regional departments
      • Corporate Administration
      • Corporate Services
      • Public Health and EMS
      • Community Services
      • Growth Strategy and Economic Development
      • Transportation
    • Agencies, Boards and Commissions
      • Niagara Regional Housing
      • Niagara Regional Police Services
      • Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority
      • Provincial Offences Court

    There are two special tax levies that pay for:

    • Regional departments
      • Waste Management
    • Agencies, Boards and Commissions
      • Niagara Transit Commission

    Water and wastewater rates pay for:

    • Regional departments
      • Water and Wastewater
  • Cost to deliver services

    When it comes to reporting the Region's budget, staff provide Regional Council with our gross budget and net budget.

    Gross budget

    The gross budget is the total cost to deliver our programs and services. That includes everything from snow plowing to long-term care to the pens and paperclips the Region uses every day.

    Net budget

    The net budget is the cost to deliver the Region's programs and services, after subtracting all the revenues and subsidies received. This is the portion of the budget that is paid for through Regional property taxes.

    The Region's budget is a lot like your grocery bill. Your total bill (gross) at check out is $500. However, after you use $150 worth of coupons, you are left with the net amount, which is $350.

  • Regional tax base and assessment growth

    The Region's tax base is the total amount of property values in Niagara that can be taxed.

    Assessment growth is the sum of all the changes that happen to the Region's tax base during a year, including:

    • New construction
    • Major renovations
    • Demolitions
    • Property value appeals

    At the end of the year, all final property values are added up and subtracted from the original tax base. The year-over-year difference is our assessment growth. That growth becomes part of the tax base in the following year and is planned for in the budget.

    Assessment growth creates more income for the Region. Changes in assessed values in a community will redistribute how much each homeowner must pay, but no new money is collected.

  • Property values and property taxes

    The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation assesses the value of homes and businesses across the province using a "direct comparison approach". This means they look at sale prices within a housing market to determine a home's current value. They also make changes to home value based on:

    • Building area
    • Age
    • Lot size
    • Construction quality
    • Location

    Property assessments are important because they are used by the Region, local municipalities and the school boards to calculate how much a homeowner or business will be charged in property taxes.


    Every four years, property owners get a reassessment that is based on market changes from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation. Reassessments are phased in over four years.

    When a home goes up in value it doesn't always mean a resident will pay more property taxes.

    Changing values in a market will redistribute how much each homeowner must pay, but no new money is collected.

    Due to the pandemic, property assessments for the 2023 and 2024 property tax years will be based on what your property was worth on Jan. 1, 2016. Learn about the assessment cycle.

  • Interim tax levy

    An interim tax levy is like a tax installment that's put in place before the final tax amount is figured out.

    To determine an interim tax levy, the Region uses 50 per cent of what you paid in taxes the previous year.

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