The City of Saskatoon is getting a head start on their budget planning and wants to give residents a chance to have a say in where their property tax dollars go.
For the second year in a row, the city has launched the Citizen Budget.
The online tool, located on the City of Saskatoon website, allows people to enter the value of their property to find out how much tax they’ll likely pay, and give feedback as to what services the money should be spent on, including roads, snow removal, garbage collection, parks, police and fire services.
Subsections allow residents to increase or decrease the amount of money they would like spent on various budget areas and gives them the impact that would have on service.
The tool is online now and will be open until June 24 while the budget is still a few months away.
“Although the administration portion of the budget is very large and complex, I think that this tool does a really good job of getting that public input in so that we can make tangible decisions in our budget and resource allocations,” city director of finance Clae Hack said.
Last year the tool was launched following the release of the 2016 budget proposal in the fall. This year, the city decided to get feedback months ahead of budget deliberations.
In addition, residents will get more detailed impact statements, following feedback from last year that said the information was vague.
“We really wanted to make a better correlation between our service levels and the dollars being spent,” Hack said.
Property owners who don’t know the market value of their land can use a link on the Citizen Budget webpage to get an exact assessment.
City officials will also bring the tool to the people by hosting public events at various locations around the city.
The tool also allows residents to sign up to be part of a citizen advisory panel. Panel members get notifications about upcoming attempts by the city to engage locals in decisions. Hack said they currently have 1,800 panel members.