Everything 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.