SASKATOON – Your 2016 property tax bill will increase by 3.96 per cent. According to city council, it’s mostly for good reason.
Major decisions about city priorities were made as day two of budget deliberations wrapped up at city hall. The official hike will see the average homeowner pay $64.70 more on their property taxes.
Council approved a $3.83 million increase in the Saskatoon Police Service budget. Most of that money will go towards the eight new front line officers coming to the force. With an alarmingly high crime rate, Chief Clive Weighill says a heavier police presence is crucial.
“I think we’ve shown to council why we need the increase. I was fairly confident this year going into budget,” said Weighill.
$57.5 million will be invested in improving road conditions through the city’s Building Better Roads program. That means residents should expect to see less potholes, more road repairs and better snow and ice management.
And as the entire country calls for more to be done to help the families of missing and murdered aboriginal women, city council too chimed in on its importance.
“Right now I think Saskatoon in a lot of ways is one of the heart cities when it comes to the reconciliation issue,” said Ward 6 Coun. Charlie Clark.
$65,000 will go to The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada so that more local indigenous families can look for answers.
Talks of an enhanced snow removal program coming to the city stirred up a big debate at city hall. After lots of pushing and pulling, council agreed to put up $1.039 million dedicated to extended snow removal.
While there are still many more details to be sketched out, the program offers snow clearing on residential streets and areas by schools. Councillors will vote on the snow removal program again next year
Coun. Eric Olauson did not vote for the motion, adding that there were far too many questions about project details and how much it could cost the city long-term.
“We don’t even know where it’s going or what it’s going to be used for,” he said.
Tourism Saskatoon also received an additional $50,000 in city grants to expand operations. Another $44,000 will go to extending hours at city paddling pools. Most transit users will also be seeing an increase in fares, tickets and monthly passes.