City of Regina mulls 6.49% tax hike after provincial budget cuts

$1M approved for Brandt Centre upgrades ahead of Memorial Cup

The City of Regina is proposing a higher property tax increase than what was previously approved — 6.49 per cent — to deal with a shortfall brought on by the provincial budget.

In February, city council passed a budget that increased taxes by 3.99 per cent. 

Then came the March 22 provincial budget, which left the municipality with a $10.3-million shortfall. This is due to the province cutting $8 million worth of grants-in-lieu to the city as well as $2.1 million worth of changes to PST revenue.

So, on Monday, councillors will discuss whether to increase that previously approved tax increase by a further 2.5 percentage points.

That would mean a homeowner with a property assessed at $300,000 will now pay about $158 more per year in property tax.

The recommendations also propose reducing the Regina Police Service budget by $572,000 and suggests that RPS transfer $428,000 from its general reserve to fund its capital program.

As of July 1 there will also be a 20 per cent increase in street permit and traffic bylaw fees. 

Additional recommendations include:

- Reviewing the funding of city service partners.

- Reviewing property tax exemptions and the split of property tax between residential and non-residential property taxpayers.

- Potentially expanding the Amusement Tax.

- Reviewing recreation services.

- Putting a freeze on all hiring when it comes to non-essential vacancies.

- Cutting non-essential travel outside of Regina.

- A one-time saving of $874,000 from cutting programs and services.

Leading up to the municipal budget being approved in February the city had initially proposed a tax hike of 4.18 per cent. Council trimmed the tax hike down to 3.99 by using $400,000 from city surpluses from the year before. 

Though the cumulative proposed tax hike equals 6.49 per cent, it is not certain that this will be the final figure settled on by council.

Council is meeting at 5:30 p.m. CST Monday to discuss the tax increase.

Saskatoon is also considering a tax hike combined with spending cuts in response to the provincial cuts.