The City of Saskatoon wants to increase property taxes to make up for a $19.8 million dollar shortfall it needs to fix roadways.
The city has come up with two ways to solve the problem. It could charge people the extra money — it wants to either raise property taxes by 2.92 per cent each year for three years or to introduce an annual base tax of $170 per property.
The tax hike would generate $73 million over the next three years.
Mayor Don Atchison was at the announcement of the proposed plan Thursday. The idea came after results of the latest Civic Service survey showed road conditions are the most important issue in the city.
"Fixing the roads as we have in the past is like having a quilt of potholes that have been repaired," said Atchison.
"You have to go back and re-do them. I think the right thing to do is make the major investment and do it right the first time."
Results from the survey also showed there is a demand to improve street sweeping, pothole repairs and snow and ice clearing services in the city.
"We’ve heard from our citizens and their willingness to invest in what matters to them," said Murray Totland, city manager. "We think the proposals we’ve made will help meet their wishes."
Saskatoon's executive council will vote on the plan on Monday.
Public opinion mixed
Betty Epp told CBC News that she would rather pay more taxes in order to have better roads.
"We need roads, there's no doubt about it," she said. "I think we should tax the people."
Given the state of the streets, Terry Wallin said he agrees with a tax hike. He would like to see a mill rate increase because he said it is more stable and the city is held more accountable.
Sherry Linden is opposed to the tax increase.
"I think we pay enough taxes already to have that money put aside, but I guess that's the way it is," she said.
Rahatjan Judge rides her bike to work. She supports an increase in taxes, but only if some of the money goes to creating seperated bike lanes to keep cyclists safe.
"A lot of people are upset because I'm on the sidewalk," she said. "I understand my rights -- I can not be on the sidewalk, but I want to live. I cannot afford to die or be on disability because I'm the main breadwinner in my house."