03/27/2017 16:18 EDT | Updated 03/28/2018 01:12 EDT

Premier says City of Saskatoon should focus on cuts, not court action

Premier Brad Wall thinks the City of Saskatoon should maybe look inward to deal with provincial budget blows as opposed to lashing out against his government.

On Sunday, Saskatoon city council held an emergency meeting after last Wednesday's budget drop revealed a multimillion-dollar shortfall for the municipality.

Council proposed examining legal action against the province, including an injunction against legislation that would permanently redirect money from utility grants.

  • Saskatoon city council pursuing legal measures, other revenue following loss of provincial grants

In a Facebook post on Monday, Wall wrote, "We think it is fair they use some of their reserves or perhaps reconsider spending decisions, rather than a court injunction or an increase in local taxes."

He noted the City of Saskatoon voted to add 50 additional employees to its payroll, and put $5 million into its reserve fund.

He also pointed out that Saskatoon will receive $46 million in revenue sharing from the provincial government.

At the meeting Sunday, Mayor Charlie Clark argued against using the city's reserves, calling it a huge problem and a future liability for Saskatoon.

Administration said the city could also raise property taxes by another four per cent as a means to address the shortfall.

Saskatoon's budget for the fiscal year was approved late last year, and included a property tax increase of 3.89 per cent.

The provincial budget cancelled $36 million in grants from SaskPower and SaskEnergy, which were paid to municipalities in lieu of property taxes for infrastructure. The provincial budget also cut funding for libraries in Saskatoon and Regina, and reduced funding to the Meewasin Valley Authority.

  • Meewasin Valley Authority losing nearly half its provincial funding 'very challenging,' says Saskatoon mayor
  • Libraries hit with major cuts in provincial budget

The loss of the grants will leave the city $8.3 million short in its 2017 budget and $11.4 million short each year that follows.

The City of Regina plans to hold an emergency meeting on Monday night to decide how it will proceed post-provincial budget.