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Proposed tax hike in Saskatoon draws criticism from pundits

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Tax increases proposed on Wednesday for Saskatoon’s next multi-year budget are drawing criticism from the business community.

The proposed increases are intended to address a funding gap of more than $52 million in 2024 and another $23 million in 2025. The city's chief financial officer called it “pretty unprecedented.”

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says the city needs to adopt a culture of cutting and saving money. Spokesperson Todd MacKay suggests city councillors may have to prepare for painful cuts.

“A big part of the problem is that the government is not looking for ways to save money, it needs to do more work to do that. Thats the fundamental problem, and before they even floated this number, they needed to gain some credibility by making some tough decisions like every single family has done in their home budgets,” said MacKay.

Mayor Charlie Clark defended the city’s position in an interview with CTV Morning Live, citing residual costs from the pandemic, and weakened buying power from inflation that accounts for more than $30 million in the budget deficit.

Clark does say that closing the funding gap will likely result in noticeable cuts in services.

“The challenge is we’ve already been trying to lean down the city, and we’re already the most competitive city when it comes to commercial taxes in the country, for example,” said Clark.

“We don’t have a lot of room to cut without having an impact on citizens in their day to day life.”

The Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce says inflation can’t be the only issue, since cities with the same challenges like Edmonton and Calgary have run a budget surplus.

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