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Reports outline more shortfalls in Saskatoon city budget

Saskatoon City Hall

The fiscal situation at city hall will require attention again this week.

New reports say the city needs to adjust spending in the wake of several shortfalls for maintenance on roads, sidewalks, bridges and even the potential continued operation of a pilot project. One report says the city doesn't have enough money to maintain the existing level of road and sidewalk maintenance.

A report going to the Transportation Committee says the city currently maintains roads and sidewalks to service level “B,” which means they're kept in "good" physical condition with minor deficiencies noted and maintenance required.

But the report says the city is facing a shortfall of $10-million this year to maintain that service level unless spending adjustments are made.

“Unfortunately, current construction pricing has led to an average increase of more than 30% in costs compared to 2021” the report reads.  “Without these adjustments, the condition of the network will decline, the 1-in-20-year cycle for repairs and maintenance will continue to increase, and the level of service provided to users will steadily deteriorate”

The report says capital spending for roadway conditions has gone from $4.38-million in 2011 to $26.9-million in 2023, while spending for sidewalk maintenance has risen at an even faster rate from $30,000 in 2011 to $6.3-million in 2023.

The city also isn’t putting enough money aside to maintain infrastructure like bridges or overpasses.

The report says the annual amount of money put into the Bridge Major Repair Reserve has been $4.34-million per year, when the target is $5.8-million with no requirements for one-time contributions.

“There remains an estimated annual funding gap of $1.46 million to support the longer-term Asset Management Plan. Work planned for the Broadway Bridge and University Bridge (substructure) within the next five years has some cost uncertainty until detailed design work can be completed. One-time funding or further delays of other projects may be required to allow for the Broadway Bridge and University Bridge work to be completed as currently scheduled”.

There also isn’t funding in place to continue with a water bottle pilot project, even if the pilot is successful.

A report going to the Environment Committee says the Saskatoon Fire Department (SFD) is partnering with the Westside Community Clinic this summer, to pilot an outdoor water bottle filling station, to be publicly available 24-hours a day as part of a support plan for people experiencing homelessness.

Saskatoon Emergency Management Organization (EMO) was provided funding from Ottawa through the Saskatoon Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP) for additional resources for distribution to community partners to help those who are homeless deal with events of extreme heat. But if this pilot project proves to have a positive impact, the city will need to find money for it to continue.

“The outdoor 24-hour publicly available water bottle filling station pilot project will be reviewed to determine if it should be expanded. There is currently no funding in place to expand this pilot project if it is determined to be an effective method to improve water accessibility”.

Earlier this year, City Council voted to pull more money from reserves to cover a 2022 end-of-year budget shortfall of nearly $11-million.

Last year, the City’s Chief Financial Officer warned members of council the city was running out of options to cover budget shortfalls.

The most recent reports are on the agenda for committee meetings this week at City Hall. Top Stories

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