City ponders audit of development levies on lots

Saskatoon city hall seems likely to take a closer look at the levies it charges on lot sales.

City council’s finance committee voted unanimously on Monday to task the city administration with studying the possibility of an audit of the city’s development levies.

Chris Guerette, the chief executive officer of the Saskatoon and Region Home Builders’ Association, appeared before the committee to argue for an audit. Guerette wrote a letter to city hall pointing out the City of Saskatoon has not performed an audit on levies since 1999, while the City of Regina performs such an audit every five years.

A better understanding of the levies would benefit the development and construction industries, Guerette said.

“The fact that we haven’t done an audit on this since 1999 brings flags up for me,” Coun. Bev Dubois said. “So I think it’s time we had an audit.”

Dubois wanted to propose an audit be performed, but, at the committee level, the most that can be approved is a city study.

The City of Saskatoon charges various levies that are incorporated into the cost of residential lots to pay for neighbourhood amenities. Among the notable levies charged are to pay for parks and recreation amenities and to build a community centre in new neighbourhoods.

In several new neighbourhoods, such as Evergreen and Stonebridge, the community centre levy fund was used to purchase land so the provincial government could build a new school.

Guerette asked for a third-party audit. Her letter said there is not a good understanding about how levies are calculated.

“It’s not to throw anybody under the bus here,” Guerette said. “It’s just always what has been done.”

Also on Monday, council’s planning, development and community services committee endorsed changes to the current levies for community centres and for parks and recreation.

If council approves the changes, the parks and recreation levy will be increased to reflect rising costs, while the community centre levy would drop due to a lower cost for land.

ptank@postmedia.com

twitter.com/thinktankSK

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