City Council has been meeting regularly to discuss a funding gap that was identified 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.
This post summarizes the decisions made at the August 31 Special Budget Meeting and what to expect for next steps.
Outcome of Previous Meetings
To date, meaningful progress has been made to reduce the City’s projected funding gap. As a result of the Special Budget Meeting on August 31, 2023, the projected funding gap has been further reduced by a total of $3.15 million in 2024 and $554,000 in 2025.
The options that were forwarded to Budget Deliberations include:
- Closure of the East Compost Depot
- Reduce operating hours by one (1) hour at the end of the day at the Landfill and Material Recovery Centre
- Eliminate skunk inspection, trapping and relocation services for private residential properties
- Modify the Mosquito Control Treatment Area buffer zone to be one to two kilometres outside of city limits instead of five to ten kilometres outside of city limits
- Defer the Remai Modern Civic Buildings & Comprehensive Maintenance Reserve phase-in contribution for 2024
- Phase out of the $100,000 Interest Stabilization Support over two years
- A $5 fee increase for Manual Tax Certificate/Tax Searches and a $10 fee increase for Online Tax Certificate/Tax Searches
- A 0.5% increase in the City’s Current and Arrears monthly Property Tax Penalty Rate in 2024
- An increase in the reduced penalty rate for parking offences from $30 to $35
- An increase in the late payment penalty rate for parking offences from $50 to $60
- An increase to the City’s Land Lease Revenue Budget to account for signed but potentially temporary lease revenue
- A 20% reduction in the program, research and design budget for Recreation and Culture
- No new FTE’s for playground & youth centre staff training
- No new FTE’s for an Outdoor Special Events Organizer
- Redirect a portion of savings ($250,000) experienced from the temporary closure of the Harry Bailey Aquatic Centre in 2024 and 2025
- Reduction to the Corridor Planning Program’s Special Services operating budget
- Reduce the payroll cost (CPP, EI, Benefits, WCB, etc.) estimate by $200,000 in 2024
- Reduce the operating phase-in of the City’s SAP program by $250,000 in 2024 and 2025
- Exemption of City properties from the City storm charge for 2024 and 2025
- Reduction of 50% of the inflationary pressures to the Information Technology Reserve
- Reduce snowpile removal from parking lots at civic facilities
Summaries of previous meeting decisions can be found here:
All of the recommendations made from the Special Budget Meetings will make up the budget book that will be debated by City Council from November 28 - 30, 2023. No decision is final until approved at budget time.
During the previous Special Budget Meetings June 14, July 25, August 15 and August 31, meaningful progress was made to shave the City’s projected funding gap by about $35 million, reduced now to $21.9 million in 2024, and $18.8 million in 2025. It is important to note the funding gap is not a deficit - it represents the projected costs required for the City to deliver civic services in 2024 and 2025 at today’s service levels.
The starting 2024/2025 property tax rates to be considered by City Council in November are projected to be 7.47% and 5.93% respectively, which is significantly down from the initial funding gap figures of 18.56% and 6.95% respectively. It is important to note that these are not the final numbers of a proposed property tax for 2024 and 2025. Rather, all remaining items not discussed during the Special Budget Meetings have been forwarded to budget deliberations and can be considered there. This includes a total of 58 property tax-funded budget options that were not recommended by Administration and these are yet to be considered by GPC. In addition, there are 10 Utility-supported budget options that remain to be considered.
Furthermore, any member of Council can put forward a Notice of Motion ahead of budget deliberations to request reporting around options not previously proposed by Administration. This ensures that all the relevant information can be ready for budget deliberations.
A further note on the figures mentioned is that they do not include the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners and the Saskatoon Library Board. These will be incorporated into this fall’s budget discussions.
For more information on the 2024/2025 Multi-Year Budget & Business Plan, including answers to frequently asked questions and factual reference charts and graphs, check the 2024/2025 Multi-Year Budget Information Guide or visit Saskatoon.ca/budget.