Tax hike, reduced services OK’d to cover budget shortfall
Regina residents are looking at another tax hike to cover the $10 million shortfall left by the provincial budget.
City council approved another 2.5 per cent mill rate increase on Tuesday night. It had already approved a 3.99 per cent increase in February, for a total jump of 6.49 per cent.
Statutory holiday bus service, Regina’s Lawn Bowling Club, Regent Golf Course, and PlayEscapes, a summer playground program, were all saved.
“We felt, generally speaking, cutting bus service on holidays is not a good way to go,” Mayor Michael Fougere said. “And the PlayEscapes program for kids, that’s clearly, we want to maintain that one too.”
In exchange, parking fines will be increasing by $10.
The summer sweep, some home collection services including leaf and yard waste pickup, recycling communication and outreach to schools were debated, but ultimately lost funding.
Coun. Flegel suggested increasing the mill rate by 3.5 per cent and drawing $2 million from reserves to save services, but that motion was also defeated.
“I think everyone feels uncomfortable and a bit of a twinge in your stomach when you think about what we’re doing in terms of service changes and mill rate increases,” Mayor Michael Fougere said. “The fact that we’re even here, having to redo our budget, is a problem with everyone here.”
Regina city council passed its budget earlier this year and then had to reopen it when it lost its grants-in-lieu funding and faced changes in PST. The province suggested municipalities use reserve funds to cover their shortfall.
“We stood our ground in terms of not using reserves,” Fougere said. “A small mill rate increase, but also service cuts and reductions and changes will take us into 2018.”
City council also passed a motion to send a letter along with this year’s property tax bill to explain the provincial download.
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