City of Regina proposing lowest mill rate increase in a decade for 2020 budget

The City of Regina is proposing its lowest mill rate increase in a decade for the 2020 budget.

A 2.75 percent increase and a .5 percent dedicated amount for the Recreation Infrastructure Program would mean an additional $5.60 per month in municipal taxes for a Regina home owner with a property valued at $350,000.

The city says the increase also includes the .45 percent dedicated amount to pay for Mosaic Stadium.

Some of the priorities the city has put in the 2020 General Fund Operating Budget include:

• $41 million for roads to maintain a safe, reliable traffic network

• $96 million for the Regina Police Service to support its role in keeping Regina safe

• $44 million for Regina Fire & Protective Services which responds to more than 9,000 service incidents a year

• $55 million for parks, recreation, and culture programs which support quality of life

• $40 million for Transit Services which delivers more than 6 million bus rides annually

• $24 million for garbage and recycling collection and sustainable waste management

• $12 million in community grants to support economic development, culture, sport, and recreation, and social development

The proposed Budget projects to invest a combined $180 million in infrastructure renewal and new construction, plus maintenance of Regina’s water, wastewater and drainage systems.

Capital Plan highlights for 2020 include:

• $30.6 million toward road and street infrastructure renewal; of which approximately $17 million will be dedicated to residential roads

• $12 million for the construction of outdoor pools in 2020 ($4.5 million for Maple Leaf Pool and $7.5 million for Wascana Pool, that latter of which will be finished in 2021)

• $8.8 million to complete the Waste Management Centre

• $3 million through the newly established Recreation/Culture Capital Program to advance the Culture and Recreation Master Plans and enhance quality of life.

2020 initiatives include:

o Spray pad/accessible playground hub

o Multi-use pathways

o Civic art program

o A portion of the City’s commitment to Globe Theatre renovations

• $1.3 million for the Regent Par 3 redevelopment

• $1 million for the Ring Road Railroad Relocation Project

The 2020 Utility Fund Budget is based on expense and revenues of $142 million and includes an investment of $70.5 million in capital projects that support water and wastewater infrastructure renewal.

The proposed 2020 Utility Fund Budget will include a second consecutive increase of three percent to the water utility rate effective January 1st. For the average house, this means a monthly increase of $4.14.

City’s Barry Lacey says if council doesn’t approve this budget, with the mill rate increase, administration will have to present the implications of lowering it. Lacey says this would include reducing services like in 2017. “Some of our waste management services we reduced. Obviously we continued to pickup garbage and recycling, but some of the other services that enhance we reduced. I remember we eliminated our flower pot program.”

City Manager Chris Holden says no one wants to see tax increases, yet everybody wants to live in a city that’s competitive, which means increases to taxes and investments. Holden says he knows residents and businesses facing hard economic times won’t be happy with the proposed budget, but overall he is happy with it. “We believe that we have been responsive to concerns. As indicated before, we are focused on continuous improvement, we’re constantly looking at ways we deliver our programs and services, we are looking t ways we can reduce or costs and I think we demonstrate that year over year.”

Mayor Michael Fougere says this budget is a good start but changes will be made, adding he would like to see a lower mill rate.”We are targeting .5 percent to recreation facilities which I think is really a key for our community, the one percent we had on roads is now off and is now .5 percent, so we changed program directions in that regard. I think it’s a good starting point, but I think we can reduce the mill rate and that’s my intention.”

City Council will review the proposed budget December 9th and 10th.



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