This Week At City Hall: I’m Reading The City Budget, You Can Too UPDATED

This Week at City HallI’m setting aside some time tonight to slog through the city’s annual budget documents. I believe this’ll be my sixth. Yeesh.

To change things up a bit this year, I’ve decided I’m going to live tweet the experience. I’ll be using the Twitter account I use to cover city council meetings, @PDcityhall. You can follow along if you wish — it’ll be like you’re reading the budget yourself only it’ll come condensed into easily-consumed 140 character chunks. Alternately, you can bolster my fortitude by sending encouraging tweets my way. (They will be much appreciated.)

Or you can take this as a warning and unfollow that account now so you won’t be bothered by the stream of tedium I’ll be churning out tonight.

Regardless, the “fun” should start around 9pm.

UPDATE: Worked from 9ish to just past midnight and read through the summary document. Whoo hoo! That’s 6 whole pages! (I also double checked stuff in past budgets. And drank a lot of gin. I wasn’t totally slacking.) I’ll pick up again Thursday night. 9ish.

My impression of the budget so far: Not impressed by the one per cent set aside for road repair. In dollar terms, it’s only a $1.6 million increase over last year. So basically the same amount that the road repair budget has been increasing every year. I wouldn’t be surprised if the extra $1.6 million barely covers the increased costs of buying asphalt and paying workers.

Next, am I the only one to be surprised to hear that we’re selling the Municipal Justice Building on 11th and Halifax? And does it seem strange that the city says they’re getting a mere $400 thousand for it?

On the up side of this budget it’s nice to see the city adding 15 low-floor buses to the transit fleet this year. And they’re replacing six paratransit buses. Yay transit!

Also worth noting is the situation around the one per cent of the PST we get from the provincial government. This year, that works out to $39.9 million. Which is pretty sweet. But apparently the province changed the formula for calculating the money municipalities get and as a result we’re getting $2.5 million less than what we expected based on the old formula. The city suggests this is another factor contributing to the seven per cent mill rate increase.

As for that hefty hefty mill rate increase… don’t know what to think yet. For years I’ve kind of advocated for bumping the property tax rate higher to cope with housing and the infrastructure deficit. But now that we’re getting that bump, I’m wondering if we’re doing it for the right reasons. Think I’ll have to read more before I come to a decision. It’s a gutsy move for this council. We haven’t had a mill rate increase above 4.5 per cent since at least 2003. Of course, this is coming at the start of year two in this council’s term. This will be largely forgotten come election time in 2016. Best to get the big jump out of the way now, I guess.

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5'10'' tall and he was born in a place. He's not there now. He's sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It's "Girl From Ipanema", thanks for asking. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.

2 thoughts on “This Week At City Hall: I’m Reading The City Budget, You Can Too UPDATED”

  1. Paul: “am I the only one to be surprised to hear that we’re selling the Municipal Justice Building on 11th and Halifax? And does it seem strange that the city says they’re getting a mere $400 thousand for it?”

    Nope! You’re not the only one. Where did this come from, and why are they doing it?? Not sure if you’ve gotten there yet, but when you look at the expense side of things, this whopping $400k is already more than wiped out by the extra expense to “temporarily relocate” the staff that work there. Over $500k in one year alone. And, I doubt this will be a “temporary” relocation.

    I will say this – it’s kind of ironic they are using “1%” considering the negative connotation brought forward by Occupy Wall Street. Some might consider this a Freudian slip? What truly bothers me, though, is that they aren’t coming out and stating just what makes up the “needed” difference between the MPI and this proposed tax hike. Makes me certainly believe that it’s a “here’s what it could have been, but here’s what it will be” kind of situation where they’ll approve the amount they already wanted to put through.

  2. The Fiacco years of vote for me and you will have zero tax increases…”you pay enough already”, Regina you bought that and now you get what you deserve.

    And then we heard … the private sector “will” fund 75% of the stadium costs (a lie) … but Regina went along with it.

    Add in the 9% per year water and sewer increases over the last 8+ years which was to pay for the …. take a guess … right … the wastewater treatment plant. Where is all the hundreds of millions in tax dollars gone to? Regina people don’t question this.

    All that done on Fougere’s watch to boot.

    Now Regina votes Fougere in as Mayor … a short time down the road he announces that the Waste Water Treatment Plant costs an additinal $50 Million. Regina says very little if anything at all.

    And … last week Fougere stated that no taxpayer money will be used for the Stadium … a week later or so … $50+ million within the property tax increases will go to start up costs for the Stadium. Regina says very little if anything at all.

    The vote NO to paying more in sewer and water rates regarding the referendum … this week are rates are going up 8% over and above the already 9%. Regina says very little if anything at all.

    Now infrastructure is front and centre … what our roads have never been an issue?

    Private contractors and consultants are milking the city dry.

    $8+ million dollars for new managers, and some only work a half year.

    Our own civic forces decline.

    Regina says very little if anything at all.

    I can go on and on. The problem here is the citizens of Regina … you are allowing these guys to lie, cheat, feed their rich friends and developers and lead you all like sheep to slaughter.

    Wake up.

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