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Saskatoon property taxes could see 13 per cent hike as city confronts $75M revenue gap

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Significant property tax hikes may be needed to cover a funding shortfall, according to City of Saskatoon administration.

 

In 2024, the city is set to face a $52.4 million funding gap. The next year, in 2025, a $23.2 million revenue gap is projected.  

 

Clae Hack, the city’s chief financial officer, largely attributed the gap to inflation. 

 

“Nobody's happy presenting these numbers. Administration's not happy. We don't expect residents, businesses or city council to be happy with where the numbers are at right now,” Hack told reporters at city hall, in front of a screen projecting the city’s gloomy financial figures. 

 

Hack said “it's pretty unprecedented” for the city to see this high of a funding gap. 

 

“It’s probably close to double where we're typically starting these conversations,” Hack said. 

 

To make up the money, Hack said “everything is on the table” — including raising property taxes and adjusting city service levels.

 

During the media briefing Wednesday morning,  Hack presented a chart showing potential 2024 tax increases and how much money the city would need to slash from its budget to acheive them.

 

At the lower end of the spectrum, the city would need to find nearly $35.5 million in savings to hold property tax increases to six per cent.

 

The highest number Hack floated was a 13 per cent increase — which would still require almost $15.7 million in cuts.

 

“It’s difficult to say where the property tax will end up,” Hack said. 

 

If the revenue gap isn’t confronted, the city would be faced with a 18.56 per cent property tax impact for 2024 and 6.95 per cent the following year. 

 

Hack said administration is “not recommending anything” at this time, but rather simply presenting the numbers. 

 

It will be up to city council to make the tough decisions about how to address the funding shortfall. 

 

Hack used fire trucks as an example of how the city is battling inflationary pressure. A fire truck costs about $1.5M today, but two years ago it was $900,000.

 

He also pointed to certain projects putting pressure on the budgets — such as a spike to snow clearing costs, extending Saskatoon Transit services and the opening of Recovery Park. 

 

Recovery Park is a waste diversion facility, next to the landfill, that will accept materials such as appliances, construction and demolition waste, and rigid plastics.

 

Budget meetings with city councillors and committees are scheduled throughout the summer. 

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