It looks like living in the Queen City is going to cost you a bit more money in 2017.
Officials for Regina released the preliminary budget for 2017 and a 3.18 per cent mill rate increase is proposed in the budget, in addition to a dedicated one per cent increase for the Road Renewal Program, bringing your total tax increase to 4.18 per cent.
“We’ve dedicated one per cent of the tax for local roads, which is critical. For us that’s a dedicated tax, and that’s very important, this is where the money is going to go, and people have said they like that,” Mayor Michael Fougere said.
The property tax increase includes one per cent for the ongoing Road Renewal Program, 0.88 per cent for the police budget, 0.45 per cent for the stadium, and 1.85 per cent for other city operations. This equals a 4.18 per cent increase.
As for what this means for property owners, a house valued at $300,000 would see a monthly increase of $8.48. That adds up to an annual municipal property tax of $2,532.
The city’s proposed protective services budget is just over $127 million. Of this, $84.5 million is planned to go to the Regina Police Services and the remained is earmarked for Regina Fire and Protective Services.
Water and sewer rates are expected to rise as well with the city proposing a five per cent increase on your utility bill on March 1, 2017. This will be followed by an additional five per cent increase on January 1, 2018. The projected monthly bill increase is $7.52.
City Manager Chris Holden said that these increases are necessary to ensure the city can afford maintenance at Buffalo Pound and on the pipes that carry water 50 kilometres from the plant to Regina.
“We can’t go lower than that because otherwise we would risk potentially being able to provide safe, and reliable drinking water to residents, and that’s our number one priority,” Holden explained.
In addition to tax increases, the city is planning for its own belt tightening. City administration will be looking for $2.5 million in administrative savings over the next year.
“The administration has said we will find the 2.5 million. They will do that. This is part of the first step of the core service review, which will be part of finding more efficiencies and a better way to deliver services,” Fougere said.
The upcoming core services review will be the first one for the city since 2004. Holden said that at this point, wage rollbacks aren’t something being considered.
In addition to the mill rate and water/sewage increase, here are a few more details on how the city is planning on spending taxpayers’ money.
Some items in the document include:
- Roadway network improvements including $7.5 million for residential streets, $18 million for major arterial streets and $6 million to renew bridges.
- A record investment of $9.3 million in snow clearing.
- Funding of $3.7 million to provide operating grants to organizations like Mobile Crisis Services and Carmichael Outreach and one-time funds for significant cultural events, like Canada Day and National Aboriginal Day.
- Transit and paratransit enhancements including $8.3 million to replace 13 transit and six paratransit buses and $2.9 million for bus shelters, service and technology improvements. These program enhancements leverage 50 per cent funding from the federal government through the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.
Last year the city saw a 3.9 per cent increase.