The city of Regina says it has no choice but to re-evaluate their 2017 budget on April 10, after the province cut the Grants-In-Lieu program for SaskPower and SaskEnergy.
An emergency council meeting was called Monday to discuss some options the city has, to make up the $11-million shortfall they are now faced with.
Mayor Michael Fougere said he hopes the province will reconsider this decision, when he along with Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark and Yorkton Mayor Bob Maloney meet with government representatives Wednesday.
“We need to convey to them once again that not only are we concerned, but lets find a way to solve the problem. I’m hoping that they’re open for a discussion, I now we certainly are,” Fougere said after the emergency meeting Monday night.
Fougere is also proposing if the city is forced to increase taxes, a line reading “provincial levy” will be included on residents tax bills.
The end of the Grants In-Lieu programs is the equivalent of a 4.9% increase to the city’s mill rate.
Fougere also said council and administration are going to look at every avenue they can before considering a tax increase.
The province’s response to municipalities and cities was to tap into their reserve funds.
Fougere said reserves are not meant to back-fill provincial cuts.
“It’s good prudent financial practice to have reserves, but to use our reserves to back-fill a cut by the province is not the purpose of the reserve. We pride ourselves on sound financial planning, and are able to take care of a crisis that may happen like a flood, and are able to seize the opportunity for investments in infrastructure that are multi-million dollar projects. We want to do that and can’t do that on the backs of taxpayers all the time,” Fougere said.
Fougere also added in 20 years he has never seen every single municipality and city on the same page like they are for this issue.
- Province says municipalities should not be surprised by cut to Grants In-Lieu program
- City of Regina calls emergency budget meeting Monday after grants-in-lieu program cut in provincial budget
- Regina city council approves 2017 budget; reduces mill rate and water utility increases