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'Crawling along like turtles': Saskatoon councillors extend budget discussions to Friday

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After hours of debate, Saskatoon city councillors found $2.7 million in savings on Thursday.

"We have to reduce this budget. This is our third day and we're crawling along like turtles, not reducing very much," Ward 9 Coun. Bev Dubois told the chamber.

The city adjusted fuel projections to save $600,000 — one of the largest savings during the third day of budget deliberations. Councillors also decided to defer hiring certain positions and scale back on grass trimming frequency.

In total, councillors have found $4.5 million in savings.

If councillors can't find further savings, property taxes would increase 5.94 per cent next year and 5.42 in 2025 — according to the latest numbers from the city's chief financial officer.

The idea to implement a $1 service fee for online registrations for the Travelling Sports Van and Arts Centre Program, to bring in $11,500 for the city, generated questions about the software from Coun. Darren Hill.

City manager, Jeff Jorgenson, called the questions "obscure."

"I don't know how else to put this, but this is an $11,000 item. It's pretty straight forward. It's a dollar per transaction for online. We don't have the answers to these obscure questions about the software today. We weren't ready for those questions. If you were interested, an email would have been appreciated," Jorgenson said.

Hill fired back.

"We spent two hours on an 11,000 garden item yesterday Mr. Jorgenson," Hill said.

The councillor said he couldn't email questions because he didn't know them ahead of time, they were based on information he just heard.

"They were valid question, and I will continue to ask valid questions," Hill said.

After the exchange, Mayor Charlie Clark said "we are getting into the realm of micromanaging."

Council voted in favour of implementing the $1 service fee.

Budget deliberations were scheduled to wrap up on Thursday, but have been extended to Friday.

SASKATOON TO RAISE GOLF, ARENA AND POOL FEES

City of Saskatoon-run recreational activities are set to get more expensive.

Fees are going up at arenas, golf courses, leisure centres, pools, the Gordon Howe Campground, the Nutrien Playland and the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo — as outlined in the 2024-2025 budget.

The cost for an adult to play 18 holes at Holiday Park will be $1.70 more next year, 85 cents more at Silverwood and $1.55 more at Wildwood.

Silverwood is seeing the largest increase to its season pass cost of $226, while Holiday Park and Wildwood season passes will increase by $67 and $62, respectively.

Adult outdoor pool admission and indoor leisure centre admission will increase by 15 cents.

A 30-minute indoor swimming lesson at city pools will go up by $2 next year.

General admission at the Nutrien Playland at Kinsmen Park will go up by 10 cents.  

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