SASKATOON -- With city councillors beginning budget deliberations this week, a Saskatoon business group is calling for a reduction in the proposed property tax rate hike.

In the preliminary two-year budget prepared by City of Saskatoon administrative staff, property taxes are proposed to increase 3.51 per cent in 2022 and 3.14 per cent in 2023.

The budget still must be approved by city council and councillors can make tweaks to the proposed financial plan.

As they make their final decisions, the North Saskatoon Business Association (NSBA) is asking councillors to "think like business owners" and find ways to reduce property taxes.

"The NSBA commends the efforts taken to reduce the proposed tax increase from the indicative budget in August, and we appreciate the time and effort put into the 2022/2023 budget," NSBA executive director Keith Moen said in a news release.

"But we would suggest that the city must make further efforts to reduce taxes even more," Moen said.

Earlier this year, city administration recommended higher property tax increases of 5.96 per cent and 5.42 per cent in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

City councillors directed administration to find ways to whittle down the hike.

According to the NSBA, the rise in property taxes in recent years "has grown at a significantly higher rate than the consumer price index (CPI)."

The CPI is calculated by Statistics Canada and tracks changes in price as experienced by Canadian consumers.

The NSBA is recommending the city consider steps including a hiring freeze across all departments, excluding Saskatoon Police Service and Saskatoon Fire Department.

"It would be a win for the city and our economy if the council and administration could reduce property tax from the proposed 3.51 per cent increase to something at, near or below the CPI, just like our neighbours in the cities of Edmonton and Winnipeg have," Moen said.

Tax increases were held to tax increases 70 1.8 per cent in Edmonton and 2.3 per cent in Winnipeg, according to Moen.

City council is set to debate the budget during three days of meetings starting on Monday.

The NSBA has outlined its recommendations in a formal submission to council.