Saskatoon’s mayoral race heats up over candidate tax plans

25/11/2018 Posted by admin

Saskatoon mayoral candidate Don Atchison wants to keep the residential property tax increase in the 2017 budget below 3.89 per cent.

“My personal goal is to make sure that we stay under the number that the administration has given us already,” Atchison said, in reference to a budget update provided by city administration last month.

The update revealed an estimated $7.9 million gap between revenue and expenses, which would result in a tax increase of 3.89 per cent.

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    “What I’m hearing at the door is people want it to be lower and I want to get there too, but I’m certainly not prepared to go higher,” Atchison said.

    Administration noted the figure could change once the remaining sections of the budget are factored in.

    Candidate Kelley Moore stated that according to her analysis, the increase may need to be “at least six per cent.”

    Moore criticized Atchison and fellow candidate Charlie Clark for “uncontrolled spending” and growing debt. She expressed plans to look at the city’s staffing levels and didn’t rule out job cuts to address spending.

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    A gradual reduction in the amount of property taxes paid by businesses compared to homeowners would help both groups, Moore said.

    “It’s about tax fairness. Businesses do pay more than their share and they don’t get the same level of services as residents,” she said.

    Atchison has expressed support for a lower business tax ratio, but only when the economy improves.

    Clark maintained his position that a reduced business tax ratio would shift the tax burden to residents. He didn’t offer a target for the next tax increase.

    “The most responsible and appropriate way is to deal with the budget when it comes, and to work hard on telling the citizens ‘this is the decisions we’re making and this is how we’re trying to keep your taxes down,’” Clark said.

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    Devon Hein said a zero percent tax increase is possible by focusing on core services.

    “There’s nothing magic about it. You just have to set that target and the other candidates aren’t setting that target,” Hein said.

    The preliminary 2017 budget will be brought to a city committee Nov. 7, which is 12 days after the Saskatoon civic election.