Saskatoon switches to multi-year budget cycle

Saskatoon officials say a multi-year budget cycle will offer more stability for city planners, taxpayers.

City administration recommending tax increases of 3.94 per cent in 2020 and 4.17 per cent in 2021

Saskatoon is moving to a two-year budget cycle, a move administration says will provide stability. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

City of Saskatoon officials say a transitioning to a multi-year budget will save administration time and money.

The change, announced Wednesday, will see administration preparing budgets on a two-year cycle, resulting in more funding stability for long-term planning and more certainty for taxpayers.

"Right now, every year we go in front of council and ask for funds and they may, or may not, provide them," said Saskatoon's chief financial officer, Kerry Tarasoff. "So the longer-term planning, it becomes in jeopardy, because you're always doing short-term pieces rather than taking a look at the whole cycle."

On Wednesday, Tarasoff said the city needs to raise property taxes 3.94 per cent in 2020 and another 4.17 per cent in 2021 if it wants to maintain current services, address a "revenue gap" of about $14.9 million, cover the phase in of Saskatoon's city-wide organics program and address a landfill deficit of $328,000. The organics program and the landfill deficit account for one per cent of those increases.

Tarasoff said administration is putting three options to city council. One would be to increase taxes by less and not maintain current spending levels.

A second would be to implement the 3.94 and 4.17 per cent increases as recommended. This is the preferred option.

A third would be to raise taxes by more than that. This would leave funding available to implement other city council strategic priorities. 

The City of Saskatoon's Chief Financial Officer Kerry Tarasoff, speaks with reporters at Saskatoon City Hall on the city's upcoming budget cycles on June 12, 2016. (CBC News)

Tarasoff said the three options are set to be presented at the city's governance and priorities committee on Monday. 

He said this is the time when Saskatoon residents should be reaching out to councillors to share their thoughts on which option they want.

"This is one of the purposes of releasing the budget numbers early. This is to gauge the appetite of the community. We want to know where they want their dollars spent," said Tarasoff. 

"Council will be listening to those. Administration we'll be listening to those. But yes this is certainly the time that residents can get involved in the process."

Administration will continue working on refining the budget right up until budget deliberations at the end of November.


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