Regina city council's executive committee to review results from low-income affordability survey

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Regina’s executive committee is set to review results on Wednesday from a survey seeking residents' thoughts on low-income affordability programs. (Alexander Quon/CBC News - image credit)
Regina’s executive committee is set to review results on Wednesday from a survey seeking residents' thoughts on low-income affordability programs. (Alexander Quon/CBC News - image credit)

Regina city council's executive committee is getting its first look at results from a survey that sought residents' views on improving affordability for low-income property taxpayers and water utility customers.

The online questionnaire ran from May 28 to June 30 and saw reponses from 2,924 Regina residents, according to a report summary on the committee's Wednesday agenda.

The survey found 21 per cent of respondents live in households with a total annual income of $40,000 or less.

Another 27 per cent live in households with a $40,000 to $80,000 annual income, 22 per cent in households with an $80,000 to $150,000 annual income and 11 per cent in households with $150,000 or more annual income.

Asked to rank options the city should consider when designing a water utility affordability program, the majority (63 per cent) of respondents put monthly rebates, applied for annually, at the top.

Other highly ranked options included one-time assistance for emergency expenses such as plumbing emergencies, one-time assistance for short-term financial hardship, and one-time assistance for home-efficiency retrofits.

On funding, the largest percentage (41 per cent) of respondents noted they'd prefer affordability programs be funded through property taxes, while 20 per cent said they'd prefer increases to their water bills.

Numbers also show more than a third (36 per cent) said they do not support affordability programs for low-income water utility customers.

When it comes to how property tax affordability programs should be targeted, the survey found nearly six out of 10 (57 per cent) respondents said any low-income household should be eligible.

Meanwhile, almost a third (31 per cent) said specific demographic groups — such as seniors, people with disabilities and low-income earners with children — should have tailored programs.

More than half (57 per cent) of respondents also noted eligible property owners "should be able to apply for an annual rebate for a portion of their property tax," the survey results show.

Another 18 per cent said those same taxpayers should be able to defer a portion of their property tax with a repayable loan from the city. Another 15 per cent said eligible property owners should be able to apply for a one-time property tax grant.

Overall, 70 per cent of respondents said they support low-income water utility and taxpayer affordability programs, while nearly three out of 10 (29 per cent) do not.

Council's executive committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday morning at Regina City Hall.

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