Grant cuts could deal $10M blow to Regina, says mayor

Regina city council plans emergency meeting tonight on provincial budget

Regina Mayor Michael Fougere has raised concerns about the impact to libraries and a possible multi-million dollar hit to the city from Wednesday's provincial budget.

The budget ceased provincial funding for libraries in Regina and Saskatoon, a move that will shave $1.3 million from spending.

It also put an end to $36 million in grants from SaskPower and SaskEnergy, which were paid to municipalities in lieu of property taxes for infrastructure.

Mayor Fougere estimates the impact to Regina from cuts to grants will be between $6 million and $10 million.

"It profoundly affects our city and while we don't understand what's included, we have not seen the budget books yet, anywhere from a six to $10 million hit to our city," he said shortly after the budget was released Wednesday afternoon.

"That is significant downloading to our city."

Government to 'mitigate' impact

A news release from the government said the cuts would disproportionately affect Regina, adding that measures would be taken to mitigate those impacts.

Fougere welcomed that statement, saying the city would take the next few days to determine the full impact from the change.

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said the decision could cost his city more than $10 million and create a "fiscal crisis" in 2017. Saskatoon city council is holding a special meeting to discuss the budget on Sunday.

Other questions, concerns

Fougere also raised questions about the province's plan to deal with the federal infrastructure program, also announced on Wednesday. 

He said there was no mention of it in the provincial budget. 

"In terms of long-term sustainable infrastructure projects in our province, that's a question mark," he said. 

"Not a negative, just a question mark."

Fougere was worried, too, about ongoing reductions to the Urban Highway Connector program, which dropped by $1 million dollars to $6.65M in the budget.