Saskatoon property taxes are slated to increase 4.7 per cent in 2018 after city council approved a budget that also keeps the Meewasin Valley Authority (MVA) running.
The tax increase means the owner of an average home in Saskatoon with an assessed value of $371,000 will pay an additional $81.84 in property taxes in 2018 compared to the previous year.
A draft version of the budget projected a property tax hike of 4.9 per cent.
Of the approved 4.7 per cent increase, about 2.8 per cent is a result of lower provincial sales tax revenue and cuts to grants-in-lieu of taxes paid by the province, according to city officials.
Saskatoon city council’s portion of the tax increase is 1.9 per cent, according to the city’s calculations.
MVA officials presented to council, seeking an additional $331,000 to help offset funding cuts resulting from April’s provincial budget and to fund the MVA’s outdoor skating rink.
Council unanimously approved $45,000 in ongoing funding from the operating budget for the outdoor rink
WATCH BELOW: Saskatoon residents concerned over cuts to Meewasin Valley Authority
Half of the remaining $286,000 will be funded through property taxes, while city council voted to take the other $143,000 from a reserve fund.
“For five years now, the MVA has been really in a tough spot because the province has either flat-lined its budget [or] now cut it,” Mayor Charlie Clark said.
The city will review its funding relationship with the MVA in 2018.
“I would say that the ball is in the province’s court on this right now,” Clark said.
“Even with the city’s additional funding today, if the province doesn’t step up, this is not saving the MVA.”
Meewasin officials will have time to re-examine its business plan and potentially improve its fundraising efforts, according to Meewasin board chair Colin Tennent.
“We have to look at different models for fundraising – different ways of approaching particular constituents who may be able to support us in ways that we haven’t asked in the past,” Tennent said.
Coun. Darren Hill noted the Rural Municipality of Corman Park doesn’t contribute funding to the MVA, even though the authority’s jurisdiction extends into the RM.
“It is a concern. We’ve had discussions with Corman Park recently about particular issues that we would like resolved,” Tennent said.
“I think there is opportunity for us to revisit Corman Park as a partner in Meewasin.”
Council also added to the property tax rate Tuesday with a $240,000 increase in parks maintenance. Another $125,000 was allocated for a senior fire inspector in the fire services budget.
The city’s total operating budget for 2018 is roughly $491 million.
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