Councillors approve 5.34% 2015 property tax hike
Watch above: It took three days but Saskatoon city councillors have managed to shave off some spending and take ‘a little off the top’ of the forecast property tax increase. As Wendy Winiewski tells us though, the average homeowner will still pay 83 dollars more in taxes next year.
SASKATOON – It took three days, but city councillors have now approved the 2015 budget. Property taxes in Saskatoon will go up 5.34 per cent, meaning those living in a home valued at $325,000 will pay an extra $83.31 next year.
Not all councillors were on board with the hike, with three voting against the increase. One of those was Coun. Eric Olauson, who made several attempts to reduce the number of new staff at city hall.
“I cannot fathom why the administration needs 65 new people every year over a 10-year period to run this city,” said Olauson.
Couns. Randy Donauer and Tiffney Paulsen also voted against the increase.
“Simply put, I thought the tax increase was too much,” said Paulsen. “Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen significant property tax increases in Saskatoon and I think taxpayers, and especially residential homeowners, have reached a limit in their capacity for tax increases.
“I didn’t feel (an increase) was really in the best interests of homeowners.”
The police budget was approved, but with a reduction in the number of new constables on the street. Saskatoon Police Service was looking to add eight new officers next year; that number is now four.
“It would not have made a big difference this year, but we’re looking into the future when we do budgeting,” said police Chief Clive Weighill. “If we’re four short this year, that means we have to make up for it next year if the city keeps growing at the pace it is.”
Saskatchewan Government Insurance will fund five new constables next year.
Overall, the budget is roughly one-billion dollars in capital spending and combined operational spending. The operational budget is funded by taxes.
Over the past five years, tax increases have consistently risen from a low of 3.4 per cent in 2010 to an unprecedented 7.43 per cent in 2014.