Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark applauded a more collaborative approach by the province in Tuesday’s budget, Premier Scott Moe’s first.
Posted on April 12, 2018 in Business, In the Media
Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark applauded a more collaborative approach by the provincial government in Tuesday’s budget, the first under Premier Scott Moe.
The budget maintained last year’s funding for the Meewasin Valley Authority and keeps the municipal revenue sharing formula that diverts 20 per cent of provincial sales tax (PST) to municipalities.
Municipalities are also being given the option to levy a five per cent SaskEnergy surcharge intended to help restore some of the money cut in grants-in-lieu in the last Saskatchewan Party budget.
“There’s no surprising cuts in this budget and we certainly appreciate that this year over last year,” Clark said in a phone interview from Regina. “Overall, I can say I’m heartened that this government is engaging with our sector more.”
Last year’s budget, the last under former premier Brad Wall, contained an unexpected cut to grants-in-lieu that forced many urban municipalities to reopen their 2017 budgets. Many cities cut services and raised property taxes in response.
The eliminated grants from SaskEnergy and SaskPower compensate municipalities for services in the place of property taxes.
Clark added he wants to see stable funding for Meewasin, which was cut in last year’s budget, forcing the river valley custodian to reconsider its mandate and approach. Meewasin’s place in the region and the province is “absolutely critical,” Clark added.
Municipal revenue sharing is reduced in this year’s budget to $154,998 for cities and towns, $68,118 for rural municipalities and $17,976 for northern communities. The amount is down due to lower PST revenue, even though the sharing formula is the same.
Saskatoon receives $43.4 million, down from $46.5 million in last year’s budget.
The budget also includes the final payment, $15 million, of the $50-million pledge by the province to help build two new Saskatoon bridges that are expected to open in October.
Clark said he wants the province to realize Saskatoon is at the stage where it needs to improve its transit system. The City of Saskatoon is planning to build a bus rapid transit system and hopes to attract federal and provincial money.
The North Saskatoon Business Association (NSBA) expressed support for the aims of the provincial budget in a news release Tuesday.
The NSBA supports keeping the PST at six per cent, but would like to see a plan to drop the sales tax back down to five per cent, the release says. The PST was increased in last year’s budget.
The NSBA also wants to see the PST removed for construction labour and hopes a sovereign wealth fund can be established to deal with fluctuations in resource revenue, the release says.