Property taxes are going up in Regina, but not quite as much as first proposed.
City council finalized the 2017 budget Monday night, which now calls for an increase of 3.99 per cent. The city said that’ll equate to another $8.09 per month for somebody with a home valued at $300,000.
The increase is down from the original 4.18 per cent figure. A motion was supported by council to use some of the city’s estimated $9.8 million general operations surplus from 2016 to get the increase down below four per cent.
But there was no appetite to bring it down even further for residents.
“We are the fourth fastest growing city in Canada and the second fastest growing province in Canada, so we need to invest in infrastructure and quality of life and there’s only so far we can go but we listened to what they said, we reduced it in a material way,” said Mayor Michael Fougere.
Ten delegations were heard from, speaking on topics ranging from homelessness and affordable housing to para-transit and improved bicycle infrastructure before council formally started its debate.
Motions were approved to take even more money from the surplus to use on other projects. A one-time funding arrangement of $193,000 will go to Wascana Centre Authority to be used for the Candy Cane parking lot expansion. Economic Development Regina will also get an additional $100,000 for its Regina Advantage program.
A dedicated one per cent of the 3.99 increase will be used for the residential road renewal program. It’s a program that caused Councillor Sharron Bryce to be the only one to vote against the budget. She explained the ward she represents, Ward 7, has no new projects under the program in 2017.
“I feel that this budget does not meet the needs of my residents. I’d be asking them to pay one per cent for getting very little and that’s just not right,” she stated.
WATER RATE INCREASE FALLS
Council unanimously passed the utility budget and it now means residents’ water bills will increase four per cent instead of five per cent beginning March 1.
A figure of five per cent was estimated to cost an average $7.52 more a month in 2017. City staff estimated the one per cent knock off would save around $1 a month, but Mayor Fougere believes it could be more than that.
Several around the council table indicated they’d received calls from residents concerned about their water bills being too high. Therefore, not only was a motion put forward to bring the increase down, but also for administration to undertake a rate review in 2017 to ensure rates are both sustainable and affordable into the future.