City administration revealed its proposal for next year’s budget on Tuesday morning which features a 3.49 per cent mill rate increase. It works out to $6.31 more per month or around $75 more per year for the average assessed home valued at $315,000.
There’s also a five per cent rate increase recommended for the 2022 utility fund budget, which would mean $7.25 more per month or about $87 more per year for the average homeowner.
The suggested rate increase would see two per cent dedicated to accelerating the replacement of lead pipe connections and three per cent to fund operations, maintenance and the long-term utility capital plan.
Administration said that the mill rate increase allows the city to invest in projects which align with strategic initiatives, including:
- $6.9 million for recreation programming and infrastructure;
- $6.3 million to advance Regina’s target of being renewable by 2050;
- $5.5 million for the development of a household food and yard waste program;
- $1.4 million for community safety and well-being initiatives;
- $1.2 million to create safer sidewalks and maintenance; and
- $1 million to make recreation and leisure activities more accessible for people with disabilities.
The proposed mill rate hike is a result of the dedicated mill rate for Mosaic Stadium at 0.45 per cent, which in 2022 will be in year 10 of its 10-year commitment.
There is also 0.50 per cent towards the Recreational Infrastructure Program, 1.22 per cent for civic operations and an added investment in the Regina Police Service at 1.32 per cent.
“The city provides a lot of very important and essential programs and services that the citizens require,” said city manager Chris Holden on Tuesday. “Yes we have looked at being as efficient as we can. We look at opportunities to reduce our costs, we look at opportunities to leverage funding from other orders of government like the federal and provincial governments.”
In regards to community safety and well-being, there are investments of $104 million for the Regina Police Service, $46 million to Regina Fire and Protective Services, $875,000 for the implementation of the city’s community safety and well-being plan and $500,000 towards harm reduction funding through the community investments program.
Over $50 million is set aside to improve and enhance road infrastructure, including $18 million for street infrastructure renewal, $12 million for residential road renewal, $10 million for the Saskatchewan Drive corridor, $10 million for Pinkie Road upgrades from Sherwood Drive to Dewdney Avenue and $5 million for bridge renewals.
Community investment grants of $15 million will support economic development, culture, sport, recreation and social development programs. There’s also $7 million for capital and infrastructure programs geared towards recreation and culture.
Parks, playgrounds, recreation equipment and athletic fields will receive $1.1 million, while $450,000 will help initiate Regina’s Winter City Strategy.
An investment of $136 million is proposed for the 2022 General Capital Fund to focus on infrastructure maintenance and renewal of roads, bridges, sidewalks and city-owned and operated facilities.
Additionally, the city wants to invest $119 million in capital work related to Regina’s water utility which administration said operates on a full cost-recovery basis. This includes $42 million to improve water pressure throughout Regina and $10 million to replace and upgrade water meters throughout Regina to provide real-time information and improve efficiency.
Council will consider the proposed budget and any amendments next month.
The Regina police budget is set to be reviewed at 9 a.m. on Dec. 15, while the operating, capital and utility budgets will be discussed at 9 a.m. on Dec. 16 and 17.
The city said residents wanting to address city council can attend the meeting via teleconference. However, a written submission and telephone number must be provided to the city clerk’s office by email or by calling 306-777-7262 no later than 12 p.m. on Dec. 9.
The city estimates impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic will be at $6.7 million.
Barry Lacey, Regina’s executive director of financial strategy & sustainability, noted that the impact to the city’s finances in 2022 will be $4.6 million.
This doesn’t include the $2.1 million decrease the city will experience next year from the Municipal Revenue Sharing grant.
According to Lacey, the impact is primarily related to reduced transit revenue and reduced revenue at the city’s recreation facilities.
“(The city’s) trying to cover off those impacts of COVID through reserves instead of going through the tax base and trying to cover those costs off through property taxes,” added Lacey.
Those reserves include the city’s already-established COVID-19 Recovery Reserve — which stored funds received from the federal government. Lacey said this reserve will be depleted in 2022 to fund some financial impacts they are projecting.
He also anticipates they will have to draw upon the General Fund Reserve to make up the difference.
“The General Fund Reserve will be slightly below kind of what we have as our recommended minimum guideline, but it will still be close to that guideline.”