City budget on track for $1.1-million deficit in mid-year fiscal update
The Saskatoon city budget is projecting a deficit of $1.1-million, according to a mid-year update from the city’s Finance department.
The update says the budget is being pressured by underperforming operating revenues from the landfill, transit, parking and traffic violations.
The city is currently projecting a $1.45-million revenue deficit for parking violations in 2018. A report from city administration said increasing the cost of parking tickets from $20 to $30, and the introduction of parking pay stations, has resulted in more drivers obeying the law. However, it notes a “stagnant” effect on parking revenue.
The report said next year’s budget downgrades revenue projections by $500,000, and administration said a portion of revenue from parking meters will be used to offset the shortfall.
City administration also projects a shortfall in revenue from traffic violations. It’s report said revenue from traffic violations began decreasing in 2012. A report on city revenues cites factors such as redirecting revenue from automated speed enforcement (photo radar) and drivers getting less tickets.
The 2018 budget adjusted projected revenues downward by $300,000. The report said this, in addition to an increase of tickets issued in 2018, has reduced the projected deficit in revenue to $350,000, down from $870,000 in 2017.
Environmental health is projecting a deficit of $2.47-million. That’s due to a shortfall of $500,000 in landfill revenue, combined with an anticipated cost of $950,000 to subsidize the composting programs for leaves and grass. There is alsoan additional $1-million in over expenditures to cover equipment rentals, the purchase of waste carts, salaries and inflation and growth pressures.
The weather is also having an impact on the city budget. A hotter and dryer summer is driving up water costs in for maintaining city parks.
Budget revenues for transportation are also falling short. Saskatoon Transit is forecasting a shortfall in revenue of $1.0-million, and $730,000 in additional expenses, mostly because of fuel and equipment costs.
Taxation and general revenue is projecting a surplus of $1.5-million largely due to an additional $2.5-million in Grants-in-Lieu from Sask Energy, and $500,000 from utilities owned by the city.
City administration cautions the figures are only preliminary and calculated on just six months of data. Administration is currently looking at ways to balance the budget, but is not implementing a spending or hiring freeze. Instead, administration said it’s confident the deficit can be reduced through efficiencies and appropriate management.