The administration has set a target of a 5.96 per cent increase for 2022 and a 5.42 per cent increase for 2023.
These proposed rates, along with a report, will be first brought to a city committee next week before it is debated at city council in October and finalized at the end of November and early December.
“The city’s expenditure increases are driven primarily by growth, and inflation,” City of Saskatoon chief financial officer Kerry Tarasoff said in a June 17 press release.
“Administration has made efforts to limit the increase in budgetary expenditures with the aim to lessen the potential property tax increase while maintaining existing service delivery levels.”
Tarasoff noted staff cut $7.5 million off the proposed 2022 budget which has dropped the rate three percentage points.
A table in the city’s report shows in order to maintain current city services and the Saskatoon Police Service‘s budget, an increase of 4.82 per cent is needed for 2022 and 4.58 per cent for 2023.
The additional suggested tax bump comes from the inclusion of two-large scale capital projects the city has been planning for years — the city’s share of bus rapid transit (BRT) costs and solid waste and organics collection.
The report states BRT funding will add 0.27 per cent to the tax rate in 2022 and 0.03 per cent in 2023.
The organics collection program would see additional bumps of 0.8 per cent or more for both years.
The city said it expects revenues to grow next year by $3.15 million and by $5.06 million in 2023, but it doesn’t expect those increases to have much of an impact given costs brought on by inflation and changes in the economy.
Tarasoff said there have also been decreases to non-tax revenue and longer term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city expects the financial impacts of the pandemic to be $16.8 million for 2022 and $10 million for 2023.
It believes spending restrictions as well as help from the provincial and federal governments will be needed to address the shortfall.
Before a finalized rate is sent to city council, the government and priorities committee will decide whether the proposed rate will be the one put to council later this year or if they will adjust by increasing or decreasing it.
Last year, the city shaved off more than one percentage point off of its 2021 budget changing the rate from 3.87 per cent to 2.83 per cent.
It noted that adjusted rate was the lowest tax rate increase the city had made since 2006.