A whole lot of hikes are coming soon to Regina — levies, fees, utilities and a "stadium tax."
Some are new, while some are old but going up well above the rate of inflation
At city hall on Monday, three items were on the agenda that could hit homeowners in the pocketbook in 2013.
The back alley maintenance fee was one of them. It's scheduled to go up 14 or 15 per cent. That means an increase of $23.50 for a typical homeowner with a 50-foot (15.24-metre) lot and a paved alley.
Also on the agenda was the new recycling fee: $91.25 a year for some 63,000 families living in single-family homes and duplexes.
Property tax add-on for stadium
Finally, there's the stadium tax. The city is looking to raise $75 million for its share of the proposed new, $278-million home for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
It plans to do that by boosting property taxes in increments by roughly 0.45 per cent a year for 10 years (so that in year 10, the stadium tax would be about 4.5 per cent of property taxes).
For the owner of a typical bungalow that's a hit of about $6 in year one, and perhaps $60 in year 10.
The stadium tax wasn't dealt with directly Monday, although council did agree to start spending stadium money: $2.5 million for some of the groundwork.
Meanwhile, not on the agenda at city council Monday were water and sewer rates, which have been going up nine per cent a year since 2008 and are scheduled to do the same next year. For a typical household, that was a $113 increase this year, with a similar-sized hike coming next year.
So where will all that money go?
According to Dorian Wandzura, the City of Regina's deputy city manager, it's all going to worthwhile projects, including a major upgrade to the city's wastewater treatment plant.
"The city is driven by our costs just like any other business — increasing costs of ownership and operation of civic facilities," Wandzura said. "We have an aging infrastructure and some of our downtown pipes and sewers are over 100 years old, we need to keep investing in those."
Residents weigh in
Some homeowners are wondering why the pipes and sewers are a priority now.
"About the infrastructure, it's scheduled to go on for billions of dollars," said Orland Beach. "And not one person has mentioned — why weren't we doing it all along?"
Other residents are OK with some fee increases, but not others.
Linda Rattray says she doesn't mind the increase in her water bill or back alley fee. She says switching to the new city-run recycling service will actually save her money.
On the other hand, Rattery says she would rather not pay for a new stadium, particularly since the city will have to borrow to make it happen.
"I'm thinking, why can't we save the money for the stadium or try to solicit funds from private organizations rather than being in debt?" she said.
Down the block from Rattery, Maitland McNeil agrees.
"Lane charges or water charges or sewer charges ... I mean, I accept those go up periodically and I'm not too upset about that, but I think the stadium I'm pretty negative about," McNeil said.
Meanwhile, in addition to all of the proposed hikes there's also the one homeowners are most familar with — regular property tax hikes, which have been coming in at about 3 per cent a year for the past five years.
Councillors will begin talking about the new mill rate, and with it a possible hike, early next year.