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City of Saskatoon releases preliminary budget for next 2 years

Click to play video: 'City of Saskatoon releases preliminary budget for next 2 years' City of Saskatoon releases preliminary budget for next 2 years
WATCH: The City of Saskatoon’s preliminary budget proposes a municipal property tax increase of 3.51 per cent and 3.14 per cent in 2022 and 2023, respectively – Nov 24, 2021

The City of Saskatoon unveiled its preliminary budget for the next two years on Wednesday — and the new property tax rates.

Chief financial officer Clae Hack said the administration tried to strike a balance between offering services and addressing the impacts of COVID-19.

“The pandemic has highlighted the city’s operating revenue challenges,” Hack said in a statement.

“With the financial impact of COVID-19 (is) continuing to create a challenging economic climate, the administration has presented a preliminary budget that maintains appropriate funding for quality civic services, service levels and programs that deliver value for citizens.”

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Based on the city’s process, there was a projected revenue gap of $30.1 million over 2022/2023. If the gap was addressed by property taxes, the city said it would have been equivalent to 5.96 per cent and 5.42 per cent in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

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According to the city, the expected fiscal impacts of COVID-19 are $13.85 million in 2022 and $10.02 million in 2023.

Hack said fewer people have been using municipal services and the city paid more for cleaning but those impacts will bounce back in their favour slowly.

“Whatever our new reality looks like, we expect transit and leisure centre revenue to continue to recover in the next couple of years, which will have less pressure on the need for the funding,” Hack said.

At the Oct. 25 council meeting, it was resolved that $23.87 million from the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program would be held in contingency to offset the COVID-19 financial risk in the 2022 and 2023 fiscal years. 

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The administration said adjustments were made including removing the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project phase-in to result in proposed property tax increases of 3.51 per cent and 3.14 per cent in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

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For the owner of a single-family detached home with an average assessed value of $344,000, this would mean a property tax increase of $67.29 in 2022 and $62.33 in 2023.

City officials said the proposed property tax increases would generate an additional $18.1 million.

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The budget is proposing total operating expenditures of $566 million in 2022 and $581.3 million in 2023.

“Council has directed the administration to prioritize several areas over the next four years,” Hack said in a press release.

“At budget review time, some of council’s priorities may be achieved without financial impact, however, some initiatives will require financial investment such as efforts to support community safety, (BRT) and support for reconciliation and inclusion spaces.

“The administration’s proposed property tax rates for 2022 and 2023 maintain the service levels citizens expect for their taxpayer dollars and ensure long-term financial stability for the city. City council will make the final investment decisions for the next two years.”

Councillors and the mayor are scheduled to finalize the city’s second multi-year budget over Nov. 29, 30 and Dec. 1.

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