The average Saskatoon household can expect to spend $86 more next year on property taxes, if the preliminary budget for 2018, and the proposed property tax increase of 4.96%, doesn't change.
Titling this year's budget "Rising to the Challenge", the City of Saskatoon notes the 2017/18 provincial budget left a large gap in revenues that needs to be covered. The city says the $6.1 million dollar gap left by the province ending grants-in-lieu of taxes for SaskPower and SaskEnergy buildings, and a decrease in municipal revenue sharing, covers more than half of the proposed tax increase.
Chief Financial Officer Kerry Tarasoff says they are hopeful their revenues will be stabilized by the provincial government in the 2018 budget and beyond, adding "I wouldn't say we could handle another major cut, I think we've handled the best we can for now". The city is looking into other ways to recover some of the $3.1 million lost in grants-in-lieu.
The city notes the remaining 2.79 per cent increase for operating expenditures is the lowest in the last decade. However, Tarasoff says the budget "is not a sexy budget", and by trying to deal with revenue pressures, there isn't a lot left to cover for major changes to programs.
Despite the four year road levy coming to an end in 2017, the budget includes $1.2 million, or a 0.55% tax increase towards the previously deferred snow and ice maintenance program. The remaining 1.63% property tax is going to police, the fire department, and other city programs and services.
There is the potential for a further reduction of 0.37% per cent in property taxes if council chooses.
The preliminary budget will now move to deliberations November 27th to 29th.