August 15 Special Budget Meeting


The City recently identified a significant funding gap for the upcoming 2024 and 2025 budget. This gap was identified as a part of our budgeting process and is not an indication of the final property tax impact for 2024 or 2025. Nor does this funding gap impact the 2023 budget.

With that being said, we are clearly in a challenging position, mainly due to inflationary costs rising by 30%. More than half of the funding gap is driven by inflation. Some examples of these pressures include:

  • the City is experiencing 30 per cent increases in contracts to maintain the roadway treatment cycle;
  • Saskatoon Light & Power has experienced an increase of 33 per cent in material prices, and
  • the Saskatoon Fire Department has had fire engine costs increase from $900,000 to $1.5 million for a new apparatus unit – a 60 per cent increase.

Other significant factors include:

  • base budget adjustments: this includes COVID-related expenditures that have not returned to pre-pandemic levels. Furthermore, a negative contingency or global reduction that has been added to the budget over the years needs to addressed.
  • growth: this includes linear and step growth and includes preparing for future East Leisure Centre, fire halls, transit expansion and emergency snow response. 

To address these pressures City Council directed Special Budget Meetings be established to go through each budget line. This approach uses both Administrative and Council perspectives to make intentional decisions about funding and service levels. As many of these decisions have impacts on services, I want to ensure everyone has time to review the recommendations and provide me with their feedback. All decisions made at this meeting will lead to the creation of the 2024 and 2025 budget, with final decisions being made during Budget Deliberations on November 28 - 30, 2023. Please do not hesitate to get in touch and share your feedback at any point in this decision making process. 

This post summarizes the decisions before Committee at the August 15, 2023 Special Budget Meeting and what decisions were made at the July 25, 2023 Special Budget Meeting. Please note the full agenda is available here.

Outcome of July 25, 2023 Meeting

As a result of the Special Budget Meeting on July 25, 2023, City Council was able to address almost half of the funding gap already. Here is a detailed list of decisions made at that meeting:  

  • Limit inflationary increases to 25% of the programs projected requirements for Roadways, Facilities Maintenance, Saskatoon Light and Power’s Maintenance Requirements and Fire Apparatus Replacement
  • Defer phase-ins for future operating impacts for fire halls, the East Leisure Centre and expansion of Transit to growing neighborhoods’ which will be addressed in the future years when they are operationally required
  • Lowering the City’s Corporate Fuel Estimates by $0.15 per litre
  • Adjustments to the City’s plan to repay the 2022 Emergency Snow Response and build funding for future responses
  • Increase Parking Rates by $0.50/hour
  • Transfer the cost of Parking App User Fees to the end user
  • No increases for City Yard Security funding
  • Defer increases for Roadway Maintenance Training positions
  • Defer increases for paved roadways and sidewalk maintenance positions
  • Defer increases for snow and ice management positions
  • Defer increases for new street sweeping positions
  • Defer increases for transportation services positions
  • Limit inflationary increases in the snow and ice management program to $300,000 in 2024 and $350,000 in 2025
  • No increases for inflation in street cleaning and sweeping program
  • No increases for funding for bus stop snow removal
  • No increases for training funding for Saskatoon Transit

August 15 Agenda Items

We will begin discussions on August 15 with unfinished items from the July 15 Special Budget Meeting. Detailed information on each line item and what will be discussed can be found here:

The order of items is as follows:

  • Transportation Business Line - options 8c, 9, 10, 11, 12c, 14b, 15 and 16
  • Community Support Business Line
  • Saskatoon Fire Business Line
  • Environmental Health Business Line
  • Taxation and General Revenues Business Line
  • Land Development Business Line
  • Arts, Culture and Events Venues Business Line

New business lines include:

  • Recreation and Culture Business Line
  • Urban Planning and Development Business Line

Details for these business lines can be found in the sections below.

Recreation and Culture Business Line

Recreation and Culture includes the following business lines: Albert Community Centre, Community Partnerships, Forestry Farm Park and Zoo, Golf Courses, Gordon Howe Campground, Indoor Rinks, Nutrien Playland, Marr Residence, Outdoor Pools, Outdoor Sports Fields, Parks Maintenance and Design, Playground and Recreation Areas, Program Research and Design, Leisure Centres-Programs, Leisure Centres-Rentals, River Landing, Spectator Ballfields, and Targeted Programming.

Administration is recommending the following three options:

  • Option 1 – Reduce Program Research and Design Funding
  • Option 2 – Defer New Property Tax Funded Positions for Special Events and Playground Staff Training
  • Option 3 – Redirect $250,000 of one-time savings from Harry Bailey Aquatic Centre Closure

If these three options were approved as is, this would reduce the 2024 funding gap by $334,700 and the 2025 funding gap by $264,200.

Other options available for consideration:

  • Option 4 – Reduce Operating Hours/Days of Indoor Leisure Centres
  • Option 5 – Reduce Operating Hours/Days at Outdoor Pools
  • Option 6 – Increase Outdoor Pools Admission Rates
  • Option 7 – Reduce Summer Playground and Recreation Programs
  • Option 8 – Reduce Targeted Youth Programming
  • Option 9 – Reduce Public Skating
  • Option 10 - Defer New Property Tax Funded Positions at Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo
  • Option 11 – Implement $1.00 Service Charge for On-line Registrations
  • Option 12 – Reduce Parks Maintenance Service Levels
  • Option 13 – Defer New Property Tax Funded Parks Positions
  • Option 14 – Further Increase to Rates and Fees

If all 14 options were approved as is, this would reduce the 2024 funding gap by $2,495,900 and the 2025 funding gap by $311,900.

The full reports are available here

Urban Planning and Development Business Line

Urban Planning and Development includes the following business lines: Attainable Housing, Building and Plumbing Permits, Business Improvement Districts, Business Licenses, Bylaw Compliance, Development Review, Regional Planning, Long Range Planning, Neighbourhood Planning, Project Planning Services, Research & Mapping, and Urban Design.

Administration is recommending the following two options:

  • Option 1 – Reduction to Corridor Planning Operations Funding $40,000
  • Option 2 – Reduction to Public Housing Subsidy $25,000

If these two options were approved as is, this would reduce the 2024 funding gap by $65,000.

Other options available for consideration:

  • Option 3 – Portable Sign License Fee Increase
  • Option 4 – Development Application Fee Increase

If all 4 options were approved as is, this would reduce the 2024 funding gap by $89,000.

The full reports are available here