2021 Adjusted Budget absorbs pandemic costs: deliberations begin December 2
Saskatoon City Council will consider an adjusted City Budget for 2021 on December 2 and 3, 2020, where the Administration has proposed ways to absorb extra costs related to the pandemic without any increase to the previously approved property tax rate.
“This year’s pandemic has been challenging for all cities and Saskatoon is no exception. The overall revised 2021 Operating Budget expected an impact, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic of approximately $21.76 million more than the previously approved plan,” says Kerry Tarasoff, Chief Financial Officer. “To offset this, the Administration had to dig deep and assumed additional budget risk for some areas to ensure the City’s 2021 Budget is balanced by applying the Safe Restart funding.”
“Knowing this, we worked hard to bring the numbers down to get us back to the original 3.87% by making approximately $2.7 million in saving reductions. So, the revised 2021 Operating Budget increase totals $19.05 million which can be fully offset with the amount received from the federal Safe Restart Agreement. We are very thankful to both the provincial and federal governments for financial assistance during this unprecedented pandemic, and without their help, the City as well as all other municipalities in Canada would be in dire financial situations,” adds Tarasoff.
Federal funding of $19.05 million, through the Safe Restart Agreement, has been received to assist municipal operations impacted by increased operating costs and lower revenue due to COVID-19.
To increase the accountability and transparency of the business plan and budget process and to adopt a longer term view on financial planning, the City approved its first Multi-Year Business Plan and Budget for 2020 and 2021 last November. As part of the new budget process, City Council can revisit the prior approved budget in the second year so they may adapt, respond or adjust to the current or changing environment if needed.
For 2021, any significant changes as allowed within the Multi-Year Business Plan and Budget Policy (Council Policy C03-036) must be brought forward by the Administration for City Council approval. As defined within this Policy, the Administration has the ability to adjust “unanticipated external factors” of significant impact to the subsequent year of the multi-year budget.
Last year, City Council approved the 2021 Operating & Capital Plan that includes the following items:
- $14.3 million in operating expenditures for continued prioritization of Snow and Ice Management
- $47.1 million in operating expenditures for Transit, and $6.4 million for Access Transit operations
- $440,000 increase for the Bridges Asset Management Plan Phase-in
- $350,000 increase for the Parks Asset Management Plan Phase-in
- $250,000 increase for the Sidewalks Asset Management Plan Phase-in
- $175,000 increase to expand Transit into Brighton
- $62.8 and $28.5 million in capital investment respectively for the rehabilitation and replacement of the water distribution and wastewater collection systems
- $32.1 million in capital investment for paved roadway and sidewalk preservation
- $1.2 million in capital investment for Traffic Control System Upgrades
- $800,000 for the Growth Plan implementation and Corridor Planning/Infill Development
- $406,000 for Regional Planning (P4G) Requirements
- $200,000 for the Sidewalk Asset Management Plan
The prior approved 3.87 per cent property tax increase for 2021 translates into an increase for a homeowner with a property assessment value of $371,000 of $6.31 per month, or $75.74 for the year.
“The adjustments to the 2021 budget are those recommended by the Administration. This proposed budget will be considered and debated by Council at its December 2 and 3 meetings and is not approved until this matter has been fully considered by City Council," says Tarasoff.
City Council’s decisions to invest in the priorities and services that matter most to citizens along with the Administration’s ongoing commitment to continuous improvement and finding efficiencies will ensure Saskatoon continues to be a great place to live, work, learn and play. Full details of the 2021 Budget Adjustments can be found in the December 2 meeting agenda at saskatoon.ca/meetings.
The approved 2021 Adjusted Budget document will be prepared and made available on the City’s website at saskatoon.ca/budget in early 2021.
For more information, visit saskatoon.ca/budget.