City Council has passed a budget that funds the core services that our citizens rely on for a high quality of life and that makes investments in our community’s future through smart growth, improved transportation, modernized technology and environmental sustainability.
The property tax increase is 4.70%, or $81.84 more per year for a $371,000 single-family home. Without the lingering impacts of the provincial government’s cutbacks this year, the property tax increase would have only been 1.92%. Making a strong case to the province to fix this funding gap remains a top priority for me. We need to ensure that Crown corporations are paying for the City services they use and that the Meewasin Valley Authority partnership is funded now and well into the future.
The budget process has been months in the making and represents the hard work of City staff and Councillors in finding savings and ways to deliver services more efficiently. Although this was a challenging year for budgeting, we have still managed to create a budget that looks forward to the future and that makes smart investments for citizens today.
Representing 23% of municipal taxes, the Saskatoon Police Service is taking new measures to tackle street crime and collaboratively address the reasons that people turn to crime in the first place.
Investments in tech
We have invested $15 million in technology that will allow the City to deliver services more effectively and cheaper, helping to stretch the value of tax dollars in the long term.
Street sweeping and parks
Some of the City’s core services have had their budgets increased so that these services are no longer underfunded and can still be delivered. A $450,000 deficit in street sweeping and a $160,000 deficit in parks maintenance were resolved in this budget.
Maintaining our assets
Saskatoon is a leader in making sure that the roads, pipes, plows, buses, sanders and the whole host of other assets the City owns are maintained to prolong their life and manage their replacement.
We made investments in Saskatoon’s urban forest and in greenhouse gas reduction. Along with plans to divert more waste from the landfill, Saskatoon’s role in environmental stewardship will only grow.
Roads and sidewalks
We’ve invested in 234 kms of road resurfacing and 14 kms of sidewalk rehabilitation, up from 78 kms of roads and 1.7 kms of sidewalks in 2013.
Bus rapid transit system
This budget began to fund the bus rapid transit system. This investment will transform our transit system, making our city’s growth smarter and our neighbourhoods more accessible.
Meewasin Valley Authority
The Meewasin Valley helps define the very identity of our community. We increased the funding to the MVA by $331,000, helping to set them up for success in conservation, trail development and education.
We have maintained our funding for snow and ice removal so we can continue plow priority streets, sand intersections and manage large snowfalls quickly. We have also improved safety by investing an additional $60,000 into expanding the blue lights on snow clearing equipment.
Efficiencies and costs savings
This is the lowest expenditure increase that the City has budgeted for in over a decade, and finding efficiencies has become part of how the City operates. Over $1.5 million of direct savings was made to absorb the impacts of growth and inflation.