Saskatoon city council shelves branding, reduces Remai Modern funding

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WATCH ABOVE: The 2017 operating and capital budget totals $1.07 billion and the fates of various projects and programs are in the hands of Saskatoon city council. Ryan Kessler reports from budget deliberations – Dec 1, 2016

More than $1 billion in decisions were on the table as Saskatoon city council began budget deliberations Wednesday.

Councillors entered the day with a proposed property tax increase of 3.85 per cent, but could make decisions that would make that figure fluctuate.

READ MORE: Proposed 2017 Saskatoon property tax hike may be less than forecast

Coun. Darren Hill motioned to reduce the Remai Modern’s allocated city funding by $75,000, which received unanimous support from council. The art gallery originally had a proposed budget of $5.19 million.

The decision followed rigorous questioning of Remai Modern’s executive director Gregory Burke, who didn’t give a specific opening date, only stating that it would open mid-year in 2017.

“Given some of these questions about the timelines and relative to what we’ve put in the gallery to get ready for this increase, the $75,000 is quite a modest reduction,” Mayor Charlie Clark said.

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READ MORE: Saskatoon proposes 3.97% tax increase in 2017 preliminary budget

A $70,000 strategy to develop the City of Saskatoon’s brand was turned down altogether by council.

The budget for the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) was unanimously approved as presented. The service will receive a $3.3-million funding increase from last year.

As a result, the force is able to add six new officers, including four patrol officers.

“It puts one more officer on every shift out there 24-7 that we didn’t have before. I mean, it was what I would say is a very modest ask for city council today,” SPS Chief Clive Weighill said.

READ MORE: Commission approves $3.32M increase to 2017 Saskatoon police budget

Council deferred a $92-million plan to move the city yards from its current location to the city operations centre. An administration report recommended further review and to consider opportunities for federal funding.

The library’s $1.87 million-budget increase was approved without issue.

The city will also provide up to $40,000 to support the Meewasin Valley Authority in operating the Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink at PotashCorp Plaza.

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