REGINA -- The City of Regina released its proposed budget for 2021 Friday. The city said the proposed budget prioritizes roads, recreation and community well-being.

In a press release, city manager Chris Holden said the city has made “careful decisions” to manage finances during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The proposed 2021 budget significantly reinforces the city’s commitment to operations that are efficient, fiscally responsible and that support a vibrant, inclusive, attractive and sustainable community,” said Holden.

He added that the city identified $5 million in efficiencies and established a COVID-19 Recovery Reserve to address pandemic-related expenses and revenue losses.

"We're positioned very well to be able to afford to fund the COVID on our kind of projected scenarios," Holden said. "If we end up in a better place, then what that does is provide some flexibility in terms of our reserves and options for council to make choices and the decisions around investment." 

The budget includes a proposed mill rate increase of 2.34 per cent. The city said for the average assessed home value of $315,000, the increased mill rate will translate to an extra $4.13 per month.

The city’s General Operating Fund expenses for 2021 are projected to be $480 million, which is an increase of about $7 million from the 2020 budget.

The major spending priorities of the city’s proposed 2021 General Operating Fund Budget include:

  • $39 million for Regina roads
  • $52 million for parks, recreation and cultural programs
  • $100 million for the Regina Police Service
  • $46 million for Regina Fire and Protective Services
  • $39 million for Transit Services
  • $25 million for garbage and recycling collection and sustainable waste management
  • $12.7 million in community grants

The proposed budget includes a capital investment of $190.3 million in infrastructure renewal and new construction, including projects specific to residential road improvements and Regina’s water, wastewater and stormwater systems.

Highlights from the 2021 General Capital and Utility Capital plans include $15 million to replace the Winnipeg Street Bridge and $6 million for stormwater improvements in the Heritage neighbourhood.

This year’s budget will include the third and final three per cent increase to the city’s utility rate. The average household will see their utility bill increase $4.44 per month, according to the city.

Part of the money earmarked for the Regina Police Service would go towards hiring an additional 11 full-time positions. The mayor said this spend is long overdue.

"We have higher demands as a society in terms of the length of time they spend on investigations," said Mayor Sandra Masters. "You can't do that when you cut back on the number of officers per population and so crime goes up their resources have gone down on a comparative basis." 

City council will meet on March 24 at 1 p.m. to consider the proposed budget.