The mayor of Saskatoon and a councillor are looking for alternate revenue sources to supplement the tax base after city administration presented its 2018 preliminary budget on Monday.
The budget proposes a tax increase to residential property owners of 4.96 per cent. For a homeowner in an average house valued at $371,000, the increase would equate to an additional $86 in property taxes for 2018.
Mayor Charlie Clark would like to see homeowners pay less and a provincial Crown corporation pay more.
“SaskEnergy, in particular, is operating as a Crown within our communities without paying a real property tax, even for the buildings that they own,” Clark said.
Similarly, the Saskatoon airport has flown under the radar.
“The airport authority could pay taxes,” suggested Ward 9 Coun. Bev Dubois. “We do provide services to them. We do provide fire, police, water, garbage.”
Dubois has made a motion requesting city administration further explore the idea of taxing the airport. Other municipalities, such as Regina, charge their airports property tax, according to Dubois.
Meanwhile, the mayor is working with other municipalities to make a case to the province regarding what he calls an “issue” with the taxation of SaskEnergy.
Property tax abatements are common in downtown Saskatoon. The city offers abatements as an incentive to spur job creation or residential development. Also, religious institutions such as churches can be exempt from taxes, according to legislation.
The University of Saskatchewan also doesn’t pay property taxes but does have a service agreement with the city, meaning it does pay for civic services.
“The case with the Crowns, they are businesses,” Clark said. “They’re generating revenue. Customers pay for the service they provide and they even generate a surplus and so we think it’s important we treat them the way we would treat any other business.”
New revenue of $2.2 million equals a one per cent reduction to the proposed tax increase.