Tony Playter, the CEO of the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce, addressed Regina City Council on Thurs., Dec. 15 during the public presentation portion of the 2023-24 budget deliberations:
Good morning your worship, members of City Council and City Administration.
My name is Tony Playter and I am the CEO of the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce.
I am here today on behalf of our members to provide the Regina Chamber perspective on the proposed 2023 city budget.
First of all, I want to thank you for your work on the budget.
Your time and efforts are appreciated.
We recognize that you have a tough task ahead to ensure you are creating a positive economic atmosphere for business retention and growth while providing necessary services for all residents to enjoy a high quality of life.
While our members understand the need for a mill rate increase, we are asking you to find a fair compromise between
- tax hikes;
- maintaining the services residents expect; and,
- saving resources for future growth
Our members are relying on you to use your expertise to strategically provide our ratepayers with value for their tax dollars.
We feel that a large mill rate (21%) increase will have devastating financial impacts to our local business community.
Not only will it create instability, but it may also drive current and future entrepreneurs to other near-by business-friendly bedroom communities — that will welcome them with open arms.
As the voice for local business, we urge you to avoid a large tax-rate increase.
For stability and future growth, we need to continue to help them build on the success that Grey Cup and Agribition have had on our business community.
As with our business community, the City is wrestling with supply chain issues, and higher costs for
- fuel; and,
Like our local business owners, the city will need to make hard choices to offset those rising costs and control spending on new initiatives and hires.
Keep in mind during your discussions that we need to show that Regina is open for business.
Residential and business growth means a larger tax base, which allows for more core services and the important social programs our community needs.
For every extra dollar that business owners have to pay in tax, it’s one less dollar that they’re able to spend on
- capital improvements;
- upgrades to technology;
- infrastructure; and,
- and job creation
From our survey responses — members ask that you to look for efficiencies in the empty FTEs and the 29 new requested FTEs.
Can they be combined with any current empty positions to create a cost-saving opportunity.
Also, we ask you to review the use of consultants and find ways that their time be merged with the potential new jobs or the current empty FTEs.
We also realize there is potential for savings to be found through outsourcing or contracting local suppliers to do specialty work.
As resilient business leaders, our members are finding creative ways to deliver with less — these are the difficult decisions they are making to adjust to the current economic climate.
These independent and small businesses — so critical to the vibrancy and quality of life in Regina, simply do not have the capacity to absorb a large mill rate increase at this time, especially with inflation running over six per cent.
While we are optimistic about the future, we feel an unrealistic (21%) mill rate increase will impact Regina’s competitiveness to bring in new residents and businesses.
We ask that your decisions find the the balance between sustainable city operations and the creation of a vibrant and competitive business climate in Regina.
We ask you consider their needs when you make your tough decisions.
Looking deeper into the budget — we are very interested to see how the annual investment to support telematics will result in savings and efficiencies. We believe this is a good use of taxpayers’ dollars.
We also commend you for working with all levels of government on home-less-ness. I am confident working together you will find a balance of City resources to share with your Provincial and Federal counterparts.
On behalf of the Chamber and our members, we would respectfully request a mill rate increase in the range of 3.0 to 3.5 per cent in 2023.
In closing I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak today, and to let you know the Regina Chamber is here to assist in creating an environment for growth, new opportunities and a high quality of life for residents and our business community.