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Budget deliberations begin in Regina

Regina Police Services discussion dominated the agenda Wednesday morning, as Regina starts what is expected to be extensive budget deliberations this week.
City Hall Regina Oct. 2022
City Hall in Regina is the scene where council will deliberate the budget beginning Dec. 14, 2022.

REGINA - Budget deliberations have started at City Hall in Regina, with council expected to spend the next three days figuring out what residents' tax bill will be.

This is the first multiyear budget for the city, covering 2023 and 2024. Administration had proposed property tax increases of 4.67 per cent for 2023 and 4.66 per cent for 2024.

But the budget discussion became enswirled in controversy after two city councillors took City Manager Niki Anderson to court, seeking an order for her to include in the budget funding to address homelessness using a Housing First model. Councillor Andrew Stevens was a co-applicant in that case with Councillor Dan LeBlanc acting as lawyer.

That court application was heard Tuesday in King’s Bench court, but no ruling had come down as of the start of budget deliberations. A decision was expected to come down sometime Wednesday. 

When deliberations started Wednesday morning at Regina's special council meeting, the immediate focus was on the police budget. Regina Police Services Chief Evan Bray appeared before council with a budget increase ask of $5,326,500 for 2023 and $5,697,500 for 2024. That amounts to net increases of 5.7 and 5.8 percent in 2023 and 2024, mill rates of 1.90 and 2.00 respectively.

That amounts to an increase of 21 sworn positions and eight civilians in 2022 and 12 sworn positions and one civilian in 2024.

It was also noted that in their 2023-24 net operating budget, 87 percent is taken up by salaries and benefits, which are locked in due to their collective agreement. 

Council also started hearing delegations on Wednesday morning, mainly focusing on that morning on the Regina Police Services budget.

Council then broke for lunch at 12:15 p.m. and resumed at 12:45 p.m., with Councillor Bob Hawkins putting forward recommendations to city council which include approving the RPS 2023 operating budget with estimated gross operating expenditures of $110,088,600 and revenue of $11,965,400 for a net operating budget of $98,123,200, and receive and file recommended 2024 budget of operating expenditures $115,568,299 and revenues of $11,747,500 for net operating budget of $103,820,000. 

More delegations are expected as deliberations go on. Around 80 delegations are expected to appear before council during the budget deliberations.