The debate on Saskatoon's municipal budget is underway this afternoon. The mayor and council are going through the budget line-by-line, searching for savings and opportunities to minimize a tax increase.
Right now, home and business owners can expect a four per cent hike.
Council received a small gift heading into the review in the form of an extra $1.2 million in property tax revenue that has just been found.
Council could use that money to push the tax hike closer to three per cent. City administration however recommends council hang onto the money for capital projects.
Saskatoon police budget approved
Council voted unanimously in favour of the police service's request for a 4.78 per cent increase or about $3.8 million dollars more than 2015. The increase puts the total net budget at almost $84 million in 2016.
Much of the increase will cover the wages of the eight new officers the service wants to add to the force.
When the preliminary budget was released at the Board of Police Commissioners meeting in September, the board was told that Saskatoon has a significant number of serious crimes, and that they "typically require an initial response of a larger number of police officers, and they take longer to investigate."
Library increase rejected
Saskatoon libraries will have to go back to the drawing board for their budget, however, as council turned down their request for a six per cent increase. The increase would have cost an average household about $10 per year.
Much of the increase would have covered the new library branch in Stonebridge. The rest would have been to hire staff.
The library will have until March to bring council a new budget estimate.
Other notable items
- Council approved a one-time transfer of $800,000 from the Remai Art Gallery budget to cover an anticipated construction shortfall.
- The Remai will also be able to hire extra staff for when it opens in 2017.
- The city will begin a gradual ban of paper and cardboard in the landfill in 2016.
- Transit fares are on the rise in most categories but adult cash fare will go down from $3.10 to $3 in February.
The CBC's Kathy Fitzpatrick is at the budget review. You can follow along here as she live tweets the work being done by council.