The City of Saskatoon released its 2018 preliminary budget Monday with a proposed property tax increase of 4.96 per cent. For the average homeowner, that’s equivalent to an additional $86 owing in 2018.
“It’s higher than I’d like, there’s no question, especially given the circumstances we’re in,” Mayor Charlie Clark said.
According to civic administration, most of the proposed increase will fill the $6.1 million gap left by the provincial budget, which slashed grants-in-lieu and decreased municipal revenue sharing.
“The civic parts of the budget themselves are below inflation but we’re facing a challenge by some of these additional pressures,” Clark explained.
Without the reduction in provincial funding, the proposed 2018 property tax increase would be 2.18 per cent.
“This budget’s not a very sexy budget,” Kerry Tarasoff, the city’s chief financial officer, said. He pointed out very little has been added and the additional tax money will mainly be used to cover inflation and provincial deductions.
“We had to reopen the budget, made some cuts and tightened the belt even further,” Tarasoff said. “This year when we looked at the budget we’re looking at expenditure controls and this is probably the lowest expenditure increase in the past decade.”
The city’s operating budget is a projected $491 million, with the majority of that paid for with people’s taxes.
The capital budget is set at $295.4 million and $352.3 million is allotted to the utilities operation budget for a projected annual budget of $1.14 billion.
The preliminary budget includes 29.7 full time equivalent (FTE) positions, including three new positions with the Saskatoon Police Service.
On top of the property tax increase, fees increasing include an additional 13 cents per month for residential recycling and 15 cents per month for those living in a multi-unit dwelling.
People can expect to pay 25 cents more to enter an indoor rink, while a trip to the Forestry Farm Park and Zoo is expected to cost 50 cents more for adults, 25 cents more for youth and an additional dollar for a family.
Budget deliberations are set to begin on Nov. 27 where city councillors and the mayor will have the final say in tax rates.