While Regina’s mayor said he’s happy to see revenue sharing with the province continue, he found other areas of the budget concerning.
Mayor Michael Fougere said he is pleased the revenue sharing formula will remain similar. Currently, cities receive funds from one point of the provincial sales tax (PST) – which will be lower this year due to an overall drop in the sales tax revenue.
“This is foundational for the city, all municipalities around the province, so we’re glad the province understood this and stood by their commitment on that,” Fougere said, adding he was concerned changes could be coming when it was announced, prior to the official budget, that everything was on the table.
Overall, revenues will be down 5.1 per cent to $257.8 million for municipalities.
While Fougere mentioned he is pleased to see continued investment in the Regina bypass, he’s concerned about other changes coming to provincial funds for the city.
SaskPower and SaskEnergy were able to pay “grants in lieu” instead of taxes to municipalities across the province, but that will no longer be the case.
The province is discontinuing the payments for this budget.
Fougere admitted this was the most detrimental change to cities. It represents a $36 million reduction province-wide, with $23 million coming from Regina and Saskatoon.
“What’s troubling here is that we didn’t hear about it,” Fougere said.
The province noted measures will be taken to mitigate the impact.
The mayor noted council will need to meet to discuss how this will affect not only their current budget but the future as well.
“We understand we have to do our fair share here, but this is a significant hit to the city, the two largest cities.”
Library subsidies for municipalities have also been cut. Regional libraries will see less money overall, while subsidies to libraries in Regina and Saskatoon are vanishing altogether.
The Wascana Centre will now be under province-control. Fougere said there shouldn’t be any major changes to the park but admitted there are questions about what the future will hold.