Property taxes and water rates in Regina will almost certainly go up in 2019, but how much they will rise will be discussed at the city council budget meeting on Monday night.
“They want value for their property tax dollars,” Mayor Michael Fougere said about residents in Regina.
The proposal made by the city administration in November was a 4.7 per cent mill rate increase, adding up to about $7.77 a month for the average home worth about $350,000.
Fougere said he thinks that’s too much.
“The art of making a decision on mill rate is, is it affordable for residents? Is 4.7 too high? And I think it might be too high.”
Fougere didn’t explain what he thought could be lowered or left out of the budget, saying that will be discussed at the meeting.
“There’s going to be discussion back and forth, as you might expect, throughout the evening about spending more money, saving money and trying to find a balance between those two objectives.”
He said he believes the priorities for people who live in Regina are for the city to provide good services, for infrastructure investment, and for their community to be safe.
Water rates are also set to go up three per cent on January 1, adding up to about $4.14 a month on the average bill. The proposal included a plan to have similar increases for the two years after as well.
Fougere said he understands people feel water costs are too high, but infrastructure needs to be maintained.
“These are difficult decision to make, and they are investing to ensure that we have infrastructure renewal over time as well as to maintain the system itself.”
As he did after the preliminary budget was revealed in November, Fougere pointed out that 3 per cent is a smaller increase than Saskatoon had passed for 2019. However, according to the city’s own numbers, the average customer in Saskatoon pays quite a bit less overall for water than the average customer in Regina.
The budget meeting is scheduled for Monday night but Tuesday night has been set aside as well in case the debate goes long.
You can find the full details of the 2019 budget proposal online.