Property taxes are set to rise again in Regina, as the city made new recommendations on how to mitigate the shortfall left by funding changes made in the province’s budget.
The city said the elimination of the province’s grants in lieu program and changes to PST meant the city lost more than $10 million in funding. The city expects that loss to grow to an estimated $15.7 million in 2018.
The city’s budget was passed in February, but after the provincial budget came down on March 22, it had to be reopened and rebalanced.
“We are managing the city and its finances with a long-term view so we’ve had to make difficult decisions to balance the budget,” said city manager Chris Holden.
While the province told the cities to use their reserve funds to make up the loss, the city said it won’t just draw solely on reserves.
The city said its proposed budget will be balanced through roughly $924,000 in revenue increases in addition to $4.1 million in reduced expenses and a 2.5 per cent mill rate increase, worth about $5.25 million in revenue.
Recommendations to take effect this year:
- A mill rate increase of 2.5% from the originally approved increase of 3.99%. The impact on the homeowner with an assessed home value of $350,000 will be an additional increase of $3.87/month in 2017.
- A $1 million reduction in the Regina Police Service budget. Front line service and response times will not be affected.
- A 20% increase July 1, 2017, in street use permits and traffic bylaw fees
- Cost reductions for one-time savings of $246,000 and ongoing savings of $330,000 in addition to the $2.5 million reduction in administrative savings already included in the 2017 budget
- Program and service reductions for one-time savings of $874,000 in 2017, plus ongoing savings of $1.7 million
- A moratorium on all non-essential out-of-province travel
- A hiring freeze on all non-essential vacancies
- A targeted reduction in the overall labour force through attrition
Reviews that will begin with changes planned in 2018:
- The funding relationship with City service partners to ensure best value for funding invested
- The repeal of The Wascana Centre Authority Act and the tabling of The Provincial Capital Commission Act, which changes the relationship and financial obligations of the City with Wascana Park
- Property tax exemptions to build alignment with the community grant program to ensure equitable treatment and value for funding invested across all stakeholders
- The split of property tax between residential and non-residential property taxpayers to ensure equity and fairness
- Other tax opportunities including expanded application of the Amusement Tax
- Recreation services and service levels in response to the recommendations of the Recreation Master Plan
- Opportunities to establish solid waste management as a self-sustaining utility
- Fees for Planning and Building applications
A special city council meeting is scheduled for Monday.