Adjusted 2021 city budget still sees Saskatoon property taxes increasing 3.87%

The COVID-19 pandemic brought on unexpected financial challenges for the city. Global News / Files

Saskatoon City Council will consider an adjusted 2021 budget next week.

Administration was up against a $21.8 million increase compared to the previous budget and is doing so with what city chief financial officer Kerry Tarasoff describes as an “additional budget risk”.

Tarasoff said it was a challenge adjusting to the impacts of COVID-19, but maintaining services was a priority while still balancing the budget.

Click to play video 'City of Saskatoon facing $20 million deficit: report' City of Saskatoon facing $20 million deficit: report
City of Saskatoon facing $20 million deficit: report – Nov 23, 2020

“The operating and capital budgets together is a $1.2 billion program and so a few million dollars here and there isn’t going to break us,” Tarasoff explained.

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“We’ve kind of pushed the limit on some of them with the hopes that we’re going to meet those targets.”

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Some aspects of the proposed budget remain the same.

The original budget included a 3.87-per cent property tax increase which will still be maintained in the new budget. It is being offset by a $19 million federal safe restart funding.

“We had that $19 million in the bank to offset this so that’s great, but we’re still short. We made some choices to reduce that budget to get back to that 3.87 (per cent),” Tarasoff said.

The budget being considered shows revenue drops in multiple areas which is primarily a result of the pandemic.

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Saskatoon Transit and Access Transit revenue has been reduced by $5.9 million and parking revenue is $1.4 million less.

Leisure centres revenue has been reduced by $4.6 million and is offset by $1.2 million expenditure and stabilization reductions.

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There are $3.3 million in COVID-19 related expenditures added to the budget which includes cleaning and PPE.

There are some areas money is being saved, like fuel savings, but provincial and federal funding have been a huge factor to maintaining services, according to Tarasoff.

Saskatoon Police Service is requesting an additional $412,000 from the original budget to add five new constable positions. All other boards are maintaining their original budget requests.

City Council will evaluate and discuss the new aspects of the proposed 2021 budget December 2 and 3.