“At the end of the day, it’s approved,” Mayor Reacts to 2024 Regina Budget

Regina’s budget wasn’t without drama for the second consecutive year.

Last year saw a lawsuit overshadowing the budget; this year, the poor presentation and organization of the budget led to the Regina city council passing the budget because people were ‘tired and wanted to go.’

After around 30 hours of deliberations, Councillor Bob Hawkins brought forward a vote on the operating and capital budgets, which saw the budget passed in a 7-4 vote.

“People are tired, they’re hungry, the staff is here long days, Christmas is pressing,” Hawkins said before calling the vote.

Read More: Regina budget sees 2.85% Mill Rate, 3% Utility Rate Increases

“I think what you saw was six members of council were going to vote to pass the budget. I think you just saw a concession on the other side to say we can be done,” said Mayor Sandra Masters. “I think when you read the tea leaves, you know they have six votes.”

Masters was one of the four to vote against the budget. She said her vote said everything people needed to know about how she felt about this year’s budget.

“I didn’t want to see money pulled out of downtown. I think that’s an error. I didn’t want to see a lack of asset management planning. I would have taken perhaps some of the other spending for the allocation of projects and used it differently.”

While Masters said she didn’t agree with the budget, the voice of council approved it.

“At the end of the day, it’s approved. That’s the voice of council, and it’s going to be what it’s going to be.”

Many of the councillors and the Mayor’s frustration came from the budget’s presentation, which made it difficult for councillors and residents to follow along.

“I think having it across three different reports, it was difficult to follow,” she said. “It’s difficult to follow for us who understand what to look for, and it’s very difficult, in terms of the residents and the business folks that we were talking to in terms of tracking what was happening.”

She said she felt the budget shouldn’t have surprised stakeholders.

“When you hear that the downtown bid (Regina Downtown Business Improvement District) was surprised by having projects pulled or you hear about different issues, there was no public engagement in year two. I don’t know that was the intention of multi-year budgeting.”

While the Mayor and many councillors were left frustrated following the four days of budget deliberations, Masters said she hoped there would be a learning experience for city administration.

“I’ll come back to the presentation. If the budget book from 2024, which was in the 2023-2024 budget, could have just been reproduced with tracking changes, it would have been much easier to read as opposed to working our way through three reports.”

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