CEO JOHN HOPKINS ADDRESSES CITY COUNCIL

March 24, 2021

Re: City of Regina 2021 Budget

Good afternoon Your Worship, members of Regina City Council.

My name is John Hopkins and I am the Chief Executive Officer of the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce.

I am here today on behalf of our 1200 members to provide our perspective on the proposed Budget.

COVID – 19 has and continues to have a profound impact on our community. People have lost their lives or watched as loved ones faded away because of this vicious virus. Moreover, some citizens have lost their jobs, some businesses are struggling to make ends meet, and some have closed forever. To be blunt no one could have foreseen the catastrophic impact of COVID, and no one can say with a 100% certainty that we have won the fight given how the variants are spreading throughout our community right now. Nevertheless, all we can do is continue the fight:

Vaccines
Masks
Social distancing and
Proper hygiene practices
I want you to know that our chamber has responded throughout the pandemic. We have provided members with access to programs and services. We have set up countless zoom calls and we have advocated with all levels of government including the City. I would like to take this opportunity to thank City Council and the Administration for the work that has been done to date and for the work that we will not doubt do in the future.

Not only did we help business we also helped our community. Hours after hearing the plea for help from the Aids Program South Saskatchewan for masks we were able to get over 10,000 masks and other PPE for the organization so that they could continue to do the work that needs to be done. Another call was from Community Fridge who wanted some assistance getting food after the opening. We responded by connecting them with a food business that is dropping off food three times a week. Moreover, we have been able to help the food bank and many others to get the word out about so many other important causes. As you can tell by this presentation, fighting, COVID is out priority.

With respect to the budget before you, I would like to offer the following comments.

First and foremost, we would like to express our appreciation for the preliminary budget before you and in particular the work done by the administration which reduced the proposed rate of increase to cover dedication mill rate increases as well as the increasing cost of policing. While there are some who are still heavily impacted by COVID-19 the rate of increase proposed is relatively reason, particularly during a pandemic.

On the revenue side we note that property tax continues to pay the lions share of the revenue at close to $270 million or 56% of total revenues, the remaining revenues while somewhat stable can be subject to some volatility from time to time.

On the expenditure side we note the contribution to capital continues to rise and is now close to $58 million annually as well as transfers to reserves at $16 million, police at $99.6 million and community investments up to $12.7 million.

You Worship, instead of targeting areas where we believe there might be opportunities to reduce the rate of increase, we will wait for the results of your strategic review to be completed and provide comments once recommendations are brought forward.

So what is important to our members?

Economic Recovery from COVID-19
Competitiveness
Growth – economically, socially, and culturally
Building upon our economic anchors like agriculture and mining
Addressing the looming labourforce challenge before us
Skills training
Education linked to the economy
Strategic Immigration – linking people to jobs that are available
Thank you for the opportunity to be here.

John Hopkins

Chief Executive Officer

Regina & District Chamber of Commerce

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