Regina's proposed budget seeks 4.7% property tax hike, includes new outdoor water park
Mayor embraces water park, says mill rate increase should be lower
A plan for a "destination" water park is part of the City of Regina's proposed total budget of $461 million for 2019.
The outdoor facility could include features like water slides and play amenities and would replace the existing Wascana Pool if approved.
"I think it's really exciting," said Mayor Michael Fougere in response to the water park plan. He said the development would be a "huge priority" for the city as it's infrastructure that would be important for"quality of life."
But as the city sets its sights on this project, another city pool has been permanently closed.
The Maple Leaf Pool has reached the end of its life cycle after seven decades, according to city manager Chris Holden. The pool boasted free admission during all operating hours.
Holden said the city hopes to provide recreational alternatives for youth living in the Heritage Neighborhood, as well as transportation to Wascana Pool.
Wascana Pool is expected to remain open for the 2019 season. Community consultation on the new water park would take place throughout the year. Construction would begin in 2020 and the city anticipates the facility could open in 2021.
If the project goes ahead, the city would put $1.5 million toward the design of the outdoor water recreational facility in 2019, then put $15 million toward it in 2020 and 2021, said Holden.
The project would be financed through debt.
Mayor wants lower mill rate increase
The proposed budget is an increase of $18 million over last year and includes a 4.7 per cent mill rate increase.
The breakdown of where money from the increase would go is as follows:
- One per cent for the Residential Road Renewal Program
- 0.45 per cent for Mosaic Stadium
- 1.90 per cent for Regina Police Service
- 1.35 per cent for the City of Regina
The average Regina homeowner would see a tax increase of $7.77 per month ($93.24 a year).
Fougere said the proposal is a good starting point, but there are some figures that will have to be debated.
"I think we can do better. I think we will focus on — I will be focusing on ways to reduce the mill rate," he said.
"It's about affordability, you know, it's a balance between paying for services and the ability to pay for that as well and that, that sweet spot is going to have be something we're going to look at."
The city gets 54 per cent of its money from taxation.
The city is also proposing a three per cent utility rate increase each year for the next three years.
For the average homeowner, this would mean a monthly increase of $4.14 in 2019, with similar increases the following two years.
Included in the $461 million is $127 million capital investment in "infrastructure renewal."
The city has proposed spending $17.5 on the overall main roads budget and then $1.5 million specifically on enhancing Victoria Avenue between Broad Street and Alberta Street.
"Victoria Avenue serves really as a main gateway into downtown Regina," said Barry Lacey, who is the city's chief financial officer.
Other major proposed spending includes $83 million for the Regina Police Service, $49 million for Regina Fire and Protective Services and $26 million for Transit Services.
The city has also proposed adding metered parking in the General Hospital area to encourage "vehicle turnover."
It plans to spend $7 million on repurposing the old STC building into the new police headquarters.
Council will debate the budget on on Dec. 10.
- with files from Emily Pasiuk