That’s equivalent to approximately $60.95/year in 2020 and $66.83/year in 2021, based on a home assessed at $371,000 in 2016.
The proposed tax increase would help fill a gap between the city’s revenue and what is needed to maintain the current services and projects. According to the budget document, called the “2020-2021 Preliminary Detailed Operating Capital Budget,” the city’s expenditures are $19.78 million less than what is needed.
“We have increasing expenditures from growth and inflation pressures,” Hack said.
“Our operating revenues are not always keeping up with the growth and expenditures,” he added.
A municipal property tax increase of nearly 8 per cent (3.94 per cent and 4.17 per cent, respectively) is needed to raising all of the required funds and was originally proposed by city administration.
City council rejected those amounts in June and directed administration to limit the increase.
The proposed budget, made public on Wednesday, does that through several measures, like delaying the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit System by one year and allocating $10 million from the federal gas tax towards the future curbside organics collection program.
The budget shows the city’s largest expenditure, almost 60 per cent in both years, is allocated towards staff pay. That includes scheduled pay increases, including those delineated in collective bargaining agreements, and hiring 98 new full-time employees that the city says is needed over the next two years.
Seven of those new staff will be members of the Saskatoon Police Services, three of whom will be constables.
“As the city continues to grow, as we add more park spaces and as we add more roadways, we need more staff in order to maintain those,” Hack said.
“Without adding those employees we’d be stretching current staff thinner, possibly impacting services.”
The document shows that approximately 23 cents of every dollar from the increased municipal tax goes towards the police, with 18 cents going towards transportation and 12 cents going towards fire services. The remainder will go towards nine other departments.
City council is scheduled to discuss the budget at the end of November. At that time it can direct the administration to make further changes.
If the council votes to pass the budget, only the 2020 numbers would be approved — the 2021 projections would be agreed to in principle. Hack noted that council could direct administration to try to reduce costs even further.
“We’ll see how that unfolds at deliberations,” he said.
City elections are scheduled for fall 2020. A new city council could also alter the 2021 budget.
This is the first time the city has created a budget for two years at the same time.