Saskatoon city budget sees over 6 per cent rise to property taxes in 2024 – Saskatoon | Globalnews.ca

Saskatoon’s city council has never gone over three days for budget deliberations — until now.

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Day four of budget meetings kicked off Friday with some deliberations behind closed doors due to sensitive matters brought up Thursday evening, which had several positions within the city deferred.


Click to play video: 'Saskatoon budget deliberations enter fourth day'


Saskatoon budget deliberations enter fourth day


In the corporate asset management business line, Coun. Hilary Gough pushed forward three motions; the transfer of external lease savings (saving $202,000 in 2024 and $84,400 in 2025), the reductions of inflationary impact to fleet replacement reserve (saving $100,800 in 2024 and $87,700 in 2025), and the deferral of custodial support for Recovery Park (which will save $133,600 in 2024).

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Gough’s first motion passed, the second was withdrawn, and the third passed.

Coun. Darren Hill pushed for all the other options available, all of which carried:

  • A deferral of custodial support for city yards (saving $53,500 in 2024 and $53,500 in 2025)
  • A deferral of a trades position (saving $99,400)
  • A deferral of the police mechanic and civic vehicles mechanic (saving $95,200)
  • A deferral of the building operator position (saving $85,200)
  • A deferral of the radio shop coordinator (saving $62,000)
  • And a deferral of the fleet mechanic supervisor position (saving $50,800)

Next up was the corporate governance and finance business line.

Gough moved two of the options, one to defer the staff accountant position in corporate support (saving $91,700) and the other to defer the IT GIS programmer analyst ($97,500), both of which passed.

Hill moved a long list of the other options:

  • A deferral of the staff accountant position for Fire (saving $91,700), which passed.
  • A deferral of the staff accountant position in corporate revenue (saving $93,900), which was defeated.
  • A deferral of the IT project manager position (saving $137,000), which was defeated.
  • A deferral of the customer care agents (saving $154,000), which was withdrawn.
  • An increase to the contribution to the paved roadways infrastructure reserve from water and wastewater (saving $1,500,000) which was seemingly forgotten, missed or skipped by council.
  • A deferral of the customer service representative in corporate revenue (saving $32,300), which was defeated.
  • A deferral of the access and privacy office position (saving $102,700), which passed.
  • A deferral of the IT applications coordinator (saving $137,000), which was defeated.
  • A deferral of the administrative coordinator position (saving $29,500), which was defeated.
  • A deferral of the assessment appraiser position (saving $100,300), which was defeated.
  • A deferral of cybersecurity positions (saving $113,000 in 2024 and $209,000 in 2025), which was withdrawn.

Click to play video: 'Saskatoon council ‘crawling’ through budget'


Saskatoon council ‘crawling’ through budget


Fast forward to Friday, the Saskatoon Fire business line was touched on briefly, with no additional options being brought forward. It was noted that many options were discussed during the summer.

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It was also noted that options for the transportation business line was discussed in the summer as well.

Gough moved to re-allocate $250,000 of the estimated $1 million in additional transit fares to offset the mill rate.

Coun. Zach Jeffries looked to make that $600,000 instead.

Jeffries’ amendment was defeated, but Gough’s motion passed.

A sub-report on the impacts of eliminating child fare on public transit was discussed, with Coun. Sarina Gersher bringing forward the motion to eliminate child fare on public transit in Sept. 2024, which passed.

Andrea Lafond, CEO for the Meewasin Valley Authority, took the opportunity to speak to council about the freeze in funding to the organization.

She spoke about the importance of the valley, saying it was a valuable amenity and that many residents feel that it is a good use of taxpayer money.


Click to play video: 'Saskatoon 2nd day of city budget delves into events venues, tax ratios'


Saskatoon 2nd day of city budget delves into events venues, tax ratios


“We do great work with very little and we are a pride for the city,” Lafond said.

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Community support was the next business line discussed, which also had options discussed during the the summer deliberations.

The taxation and general revenue business line was up next, with Coun. Mairin Loewen moving to update a recommendation to increase to the city’s arrears monthly property tax penalty rate to 0.75 per cent, which passed.

City council then discussed the business plan and budget operating and capital options, with the capital options being passed.

When it came to the operating options, several councillors brought forward motions to add to the budget that would actually increase spending.

Chief financial officer Clae Hack noted that if no additions were made, the property tax increase for 2024 would be 5.8 per cent and 5.43 per cent for 2025.

He added that if everything that was brought forward by councillors to add to the budget passed, they would have a 6.2 per cent property tax increase for 2024 and 5.7 per cent in 2025.

Coun. David Kirton brought forward a motion to rescind a previous motion to reduce increases and maintain the same level of funding for grants and community organization support, increasing the budget by $85,700 in 2024 and $211,300 in 2025, which passed.


Click to play video: 'Saskatoon budget talks begin with public speakers, police business plan'


Saskatoon budget talks begin with public speakers, police business plan


He also brought forward another motion to move a previous motion for a communications consultant position for Saskatoon Fire, increasing the budget by $115,700, which passed.

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Loewen moved a motion to reconsider an option regarding the school zone snow removal enhancements for $34,000, which passed.

Coun. Cynthia Block wanted to add money to the urban forestry reserve contribution to the tune of $100,000 in 2024 and $150,000 in 2025, which passed.

Gough wanted to add money to the housing operating program with $240,000 in 2024 and $125,000 in 2025, which passed.

She also moved to add the continuation of the public WIFI pilot, costing $5,000, which passed.

Gough added a motion to increase the Riverbank washroom checks, with $100,000 in 2024 and $5,000 in 2025, which passed.

Block moved forward the road safety audit program for $100,000, which passed.

She also moved a motion regarding the sweeping of pedestrian walkways and bridges for $30,000, which was defeated.

Coun. Bev Dubois put forward a motion regarding the Saskatoon transit targeted support worker program, adding $278,600 in 2024 and $204,000 in 2025, which passed.

Mayor Charlie Clark added an Indigenous public engagement consultant position for $113,000 and an Indigenous technical advisory group for $850,000 for consideration.


Click to play video: 'Business groups warn against property tax increase'


Business groups warn against property tax increase


The public engagement consultant position passed, but the Indigenous technical advisory group was defeated.

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Hack did a final tally, with the property tax increase set to 6.16 per cent in 2024 (an average increase of $10.68 per month) and 5.63 per cent in 2025 (an average increase of $10.37 per month).

Projections sat at 7.22 per cent in 2024 and 5.58 per cent in 2025 at the beginning of the budget deliberations on Tuesday.

Dubois then brought forward another motion to amend the budget to reconsider the $250,000 being pulled from the $1 million in transit fares to lower the mill rate and raise that number to $600,000, which passed.

Coun. Darren Hill also pushed for an amendment for a global reduction of $2 million from the budget for city administration to decide where to cut that money, which did not go forward.

The amendment from Dubois dropped the final tally to 6.04 per cent from 6.16 per cent in 2024.