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'We cannot keep spending': Saskatoon councillors say budget falls short of savings goals

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After two days of discussing the 2024-2025 budget, some councillors are concerned about the lack of progress made.

Councillors are searching for savings to cover a $21 million gap for 2024 and $18 million for 2025 — largely attributed to inflation. If city officials can’t find enough savings, the cost falls on taxpayers.

Currently, property taxes are set to increase 7.22 per cent in 2024 and 5.58 per cent in 2025.

Ward 4 Coun. Troy Davies worried those figures could be higher without substantial cuts.

"I think we have to make some bold moves here to get the ball rolling because it's not rolling at all at this point," Davies told the chamber.

Ward 5 Coun. Randy Donauer submitted to cut $1.4 million from city spending.

He proposed a 3 per cent reduction to capital reserves, except for roadway preservation and fire, for 2024 and 2025.

Council was divided on the motion, which ultimately passed in a 6-5 vote.

"We're talking about a million dollars out of a billion dollar budget so the concept that we're raping and pillaging any one reserve is a little bit overdramatic," Donauer said.

He urged his colleagues to think critically about saving money instead of approving every request.

"We cannot keep spending the way we are and not care," he said.

Council saved $200,000 by creating more billboard locations on city-owned land.

The budget for TCU Place was unanimously approved. The venue anticipates a slim surplus of $122 in 2024, as the events industry rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Budget deliberations are scheduled to continue Thursday.

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