Saskatoon mayoral incumbent Charlie Clark has released a portion of his platform showing how he could be fiscally prudent and reduce property taxes.
The plan has four points: more efficient city growth, environmental innovation, embracing technology and leveraging partnerships with organizations and other levels of government.
While Clark noted this will save money, he was short on details when asked just how much homeowners would save on property taxes.
“I know that by throwing out a number during an election, it becomes very difficult because you have to look at the budget itself and do it,” Clark told reporters during a press conference.
“I’m proud of the success that we’ve had at bringing down costs while improving our services.”
Addressing city growth, he stated there are currently commitments for 1,000 housing units downtown.
Rather than growing the city out, growing it up means fewer costs for things like roads and utilities.
Clark has listed numerous environmental policies in the plan including building and retrofitting policies, expanding the landfill gas project and converting the city’s fleet to electric vehicles and setting up charging networks.
The third item on Clark’s list looks at upgrades for city software he said would save $40 million in operating costs over six years and $10 million per year after it has been set up.
Clark also pointed to partnerships the city could have with organizations and federal and provincial governments to receive capital funding for projects within Saskatoon.
The incumbent pointed to his record and said that his council has brought in lower tax increases than previous ones.
He also stated his council has saved the city in excess of $7 million through the following changes:
- $850,000 annually from changing streetlights to LED
- $500,000-$600,000 annually by putting GPS and telematics systems in the city fleet which reduces fuel costs and staff time
- $750,000 per year on more efficient snow removal
- $3.1 million over five years by changing the city’s cell phone contracts
- $2 million per year after reorganizing fire services so the city wouldn’t have to build a new fire hall.
A University of Saskatchewan political scientist said capitalizing on partnerships is something that makes sense.
“It’s in line very importantly where the federal government is going to be spending literally billions of dollars,” Greg Poelzer said.
He added Clark has been facing criticism from fellow candidates over the past few weeks regarding spending, but voters could resonate with his concept for longer term savings.
“I think for his candidacy it was really important to tell his story of where he believes he’s doing a fiscally responsible approach as a mayor,” Poelzer said.
Don Atchison has promised zero property tax increases for the upcoming year while Rob Norris says he would put a one per cent increase in place.
City council voted in favour of property tax increases of 3.7 and 3.87 per cent for 2020 and 2021 in November.