Council Wrap Up: Budget Meeting Cracks The 10:30pm Barrier, I’m Home Now And Bleary-eyed And All Out Of Whisky, Dammit!

This Week at City HallEverything passed tonight. All the budgets. It’s all good. There’s a 4.45 per cent mill rate increase coming from the city. And 2.9 per cent mill rate increase on the Regina Public Library portion as well. The Regina Police Service will be getting their $61,393,600 operating budget and their $2,605,000 capital budget. And water utility rates will go up by another nine per cent this year.

None of that was surprising. The days of zero per cent mill rate increases are behind us if for no other reason than we’ve committed ourselves to a minimum 0.45 per cent mill rate increase for the next 10 years just to cover the stadium. But also because, until some new magic revenue source is found, council has realized that not increasing the mill rate is actually going backwards as we have to at the very least keep up with Municipal Price Index (the inflation rate for things a municipality buys) and population growth.

Even the Chamber of Commerce came out and essentially agreed with this thinking, with John Hopkins, the CoC CEO, saying that while his organization would have liked a smaller increase, this 4.45 per cent wasn’t out of line.

There were a few other interesting bits to come out of the meeting.

• Council passed a motion to write a letter to the provincial government urging them to boost their investment in Paratransit up to what it should be. Apparently, under the original Paratransit agreement with Regina, the province was supposed to be funding 50 per cent of the operating costs of the service and 75 per cent of the capital. They’re not meeting that goal and the city is going to try and get them to live up to their responsibility.

• Council passed a motion to direct the $800,000 in the outdoor pools program towards a consultation program aimed at figuring out how to keep the city’s outdoor pools open. A report that was received and filed tonight about the status of outdoor pools and tennis courts raised a lot of hackles in the community as it contemplated the possibility of some pools perhaps having to be closed because they’ve outlived their useable lifespan. Council was quick to point out that this was just an information report and there was no recommendation in there to close anything.

• There was A LOT of talk about instituting snow routes with the Mayor bringing forward a motion to have staff investigate what it will take to put them in place. And council didn’t seem at all happy with the people who like to abandon their cars on the streets all winter long, making it more difficult and more expensive for the city to clear the snow. “What people who abandon their cars on the street all winter??” you ask. “That totally doesn’t happen.” Yes it does. As evidence: reginasnowedincars.tumblr.com

• Bike Regina came out to advocate for more and smarter bike infrastructure. Their ideas were very well received.

There was more but I’m totally bagged so I’m going to go to bed. If you have questions or comments, put ’em in the comments below and I’ll try to respond tomorrow morning.

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.

6 thoughts on “Council Wrap Up: Budget Meeting Cracks The 10:30pm Barrier, I’m Home Now And Bleary-eyed And All Out Of Whisky, Dammit!”

  1. I was totally floored that Hopkins used a line from my January council meeting. Granted he used it with the intention of boosting money for infrastructure, but transit is a sort of infrastructure also, and it too needs greater investment to grow.

    One manager in the administration, Wandzura[sp?] seems to say we should only *meet* demand for transit, instead of striving to increase it; that was disappointing to hear. Given that Regina Transit says we’re not meeting demand, and could use 27 more buses, I don’t see how Council’s choice tonight to not put more (0.1% more even) into the rate increase fits with their talk about improving transit and paratransit. Maybe there is hope for next year (when the increase will have to be greater than .1% to make up for this year’s missed chance).

    I was pleasantly surprised by how enthusiastically Bike Regina’s delegation was taken. I think Council would be a much better place to present if as many questions were asked of most unique delegations at a meeting.

    The clear reversal (err, not officially) on the pool closure recommendation was also a pleasant surprise. Maybe there is a little hope for this City yet.

  2. Hi John,
    I gave Bike Regina short shrift in my write up above but by the time I got to that point I was out of steam. But yes, council was extremely open to what you had to say. Councillor Hincks in particular seemed almost… dare I say… giddy?

    I take a slightly more cynical view in that much of what you and Bike Regina were suggesting were things that are already covered in the Downtown Plan. Those ideas seem to have gone nowhere. Witness the reconstruction of the downtown streets and how they aren’t incorporating any bike infrastructure there. The DNP has as an immediate goal adding bike lanes and “bike boxes” at intersections. And I think there’s even mention of using coloured asphalt to do this so that you don’t have to repaint them every few years. And even though the downtown roadwork would be a perfect opportunity to incorporate all that, that work just wasn’t even considered. (In fact, I asked Mayor Fiacco about it in a scrum last year and he seemed confused by my question.)

    I worry that admin, in telling council that Bike Regina should continue to be engaged with Design Regina, was a sly way of giving you the brush off.

    But maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe the OCP will bring great things for bicycling.

    Either way, Bike Regina’s presentation last night was great. Good work.

  3. I also thought that Council will actually deal with the paratransit disaster became a glimmer of hope, although they are likely to not increase the service because they think the provincial government should be putting in more money (which they should). The pressure to make transit and paratransit better hopefully got through but likely not until next year. They are going to look into the cost of parking which could be another plus for transit and paratransit.

  4. I remember when the city held some open house on 13th Ave bike lanes about 3-4 years ago, at the Oddfellows Hall (I think) when it was on 13th.

    We cast a ballot for our fave design, then I remember prodding the pretty boy running the show if this was ‘really’ going to happen and he got all defensive and acted like I was stupid, “Like duh, what the f*ck you think, we’re just doing this for show??” I wonder where that dimwit is now? Either way, he’s probably somehow involved with the bright, shimmering U.S. commercial colony that is Harbour Landing.

  5. Yeah, the risk of it being a brush-off is present until they start putting paint to pavement, and shovels in the ground. Hope springs eternal.

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