February 4, 2014 1:16 pm
Updated: February 5, 2014 9:45 am

Proposed city budget includes 7 per cent tax hike

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REGINA – Queen City residents can expect to pay more if City Council approves a 7 per cent tax increase plus an 8 per cent utility hike.

“We are in an unprecedented time of economic growth and expansion,” Fougere said.  “With our strong economy and great quality of life, Regina is attracting thousands of new residents and is the envy of other cities across Canada. The 2014 budget invests in sustaining this growth and taking advantage of the many opportunities that lie before us.”

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Council will consider a 6 per cent general tax increase with an additional 1 per cent tax increase that will be dedicated to fixing local residential streets.

“It’s an exciting time to be living and working in Regina,” Fougere said.  “We are meeting the needs of our growing community by investing in new and existing infrastructure that supports growth. We are building new roads and parks in city neighbourhoods. We have newer fire trucks and transit buses and a new curbside recycling program, all of which contribute to our safe, vibrant communities,” Fougere added.  “The proposed 6 per cent general tax increase means the average home owner pays less than $8 per month more in property tax, which is a reasonable price to pay for the quality of life and the programs and services we enjoy.”

Mayor Fougere added that people in Regina want a quality network of streets, so the additional 1 per cent tax increase will be solely for fixing local roadways.

In 2013 the City spent $18.1 million on maintaining roads and this year expects to spend $19.7 million.

Also, water and sewer utility customers will see an 8 per cent increase to bill, which will work out to about $10 per month for each home.

Over the past several years, increases in the water and sewer rate have been dedicated to a reserve fund that will provide $19.8 million to help the city pay for the upgrade to the sewage treatment plant.

The CEO of the Regina and District Chamber of Commerce, John Hopkins, said members were polled and they don’t approve of the hike.

“When you’re talking about a 7 per cent mill rate increase, there’s not a ton of support for that,” said Hopkins. “There was a lot of support between 1 and 3 per cent.”

He said a 7 per cent increase will have a significant impact on business owners.

“The rate for commercial is twice the amount for residential,” said Hopkins. “At the end of the day business owners, as well as home owners, are going to have to decide what they’re going to do to offset this increase.”

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) said the increase is unaffordable for many families.

“It’s going to be hard on a lot of families in Regina to pay that,” said Colin Craig with the CTF. “A lot of people aren’t seeing their paychecks go up by 7%.”

The last time the city of Regina experienced a property tax hike of 6 per cent or higher was in 1982 when the tax hike was 9.63 per cent.

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