Saskatoon could hike taxes, freeze staff wages in light of provincial budget

Saskatoon's city council ​will consider raising property taxes and freezing City Hall wages to cope with an unexpected $9-million shortfall left by the provincial budget.

Saskatoon looks at variety of measures to deal with $9-million shortfall

Saskatoon City Hall. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

Saskatoon's city council ​will consider raising property taxes and freezing city hall wages to cope with an unexpected $9-million shortfall caused by the provincial budget. 

On Friday, city hall released a report outlining its plan to deal with the cancellation of the province's grants-in-lieu program and the unexpected bump in the provincial sales tax.

Among the recommendations are increasing property taxes by an additional 1.69 per cent.

For residential ratepayers that would translate into an overall increase of about 5.58 per cent.

But city officials claim that the real impact will be more like 3.3 per cent for the average homeowner. 

City officials are also recommending a wage freeze for all city hall staff. 

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark and his council are looking at a variety of measures to deal with a $9-million budget shortfall, including City a wage freeze for all city hall staff. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC News)
The provincial government scrapped the grants-in-lieu program in the March budget and now the city officials are scrambling to revise the city's budget.

The longstanding program meant the city received millions of dollars in provincial grants every year to make up for the fact that provincial buildings and properties don't pay any civic property tax.

The city is also considering saving $1.1 million on snow and ice removal and increasing parking ticket fines from $20 to $30.  

The city also hopes to save an additional $500,000 on fuel this year.

If approved by city councillors, those recommendations would likely take care of the unexpected hit this year. 

Council looks to future 

But the report released Friday afternoon goes on to outline plans to deal with the province in the future. 

One of the most contentious ideas is to start charging the province for the new joint-use school properties. Currently the city hands over that property for $1 a year.

The report also suggests charging Crown corporations rent, and there is a suggestion that civic officials could lobby the province for more taxing powers.

Regina's city council is hiking that city's taxes by an additional 2.5 per cent to deal with a similar shortfall caused by the provincial budget. 

Regina is also cutting its police budget by $1 million, implementing a hiring freeze on all non-essential city hall vacancies, and hiking street use fees by 20 per cent. 

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said that traffic bylaw ticket fines in Regina would be increasing. Instead, only street use fees are going up.
    Apr 10, 2017 10:13 AM CT