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City taxes likely to rise

Council unveils its 2022 budgets but approval not yet given
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Property taxes look to rise 4.86 per cent. (File Photo)

YORKTON - Property taxes are likely to rise in Yorkton in 2022. 

While not adopting the budget at its regular meeting Monday Yorkton Council did vote to direct Administration to publish the 2022 Operating and 2022/2023 Capital Budget report in its entirety on the City’s website for public review, and further that Administration bring a subsequent budget report and summary of feedback to the Feb. 14 Council meeting. 

In presenting the report on the budget prepared by Ashley Stradeski – Director of Finance, with the City, City Manager Lonnie Kaal noted, “Budget preparations were begun by the individual departments in September and October of last year. These were compiled, analyzed and adjusted through our cooperative process during October and November.” 

During these meetings, departmental budgets were reviewed, discussed, and service levels were considered in conjunction with budget, added Kaal. 

On the operations side the budget was prepared as a status quo document, said Kaal, meaning the budget is estimated to provide the same level of services to the residents of Yorkton as the year prior. 

However, initial numbers were not good. 

Our initial budget sat at over a 12 per cent increase in taxes required, with one per cent included in that for Capital, and the remaining towards our operating budget, said Kaal. 

The vast majority of the increase was related to RCMP costs, about eight per cent of the initial budget numbers. 

The RCMP increase “is due to a new collective agreement signed between the Federal Government and the RCMP. This is not a process that anyone from this city, or any city, was involved in. It also did not specifically involve our local RCMP – this was a Canada-wide process that our local RCMP did not have much, if any, input in,” explained Kaal. 

“It involves significant increases in RCMP salary on an ongoing basis, as well as a very significant amount of retroactive pay which will be charged to the City in its upcoming contract year.” 

In the end the budget numbers were wrangled down to what was presented Monday as a 4.86 per cent increase, 2.36 per cent relating to RCMP costs, 0.5 per cent to a decrease in Municipal Revenue Sharing from the province, and one per cent each going to general operations and capital. 

Kaal noted it is a city plan to add one per cent per year to capital as it tries to address the infrastructure deficit. 

The one per cent to operating comes in a year inflation is around 4.5 per cent, said Kaal. 

As for the RCMP costs the largest portion of this is retro pay, for which the City had been saving towards in the RCMP budget for a number of years. However, what was saved has, however, fallen short, with approximately $785,000 in reserves for policing to go towards the $1.4 million of retro pay. 

This works out to approximately $1.24 million dollars, again with roughly half of this going to the RCMP. 

As for the provincial funding decline, annually, the City receives funding from the province by the Municipal Revenue Sharing grant. This comes in the form of a share of PST revenue. The Provincial Government takes a portion of all PST revenue, and allocates it to municipalities, explained Kaal. The loss to Yorkton is $137,000. 

Revenues especially on the recreation facilities side of things were hit by COVID, said Kaal. 

To offset this, the City will be using some of its COVID Safe Restart grant funding it received towards the end of 2020 to cover the lost revenue, as this was the intent of the grant. The City received $975,000 in 2020, of which $350,000 was utilized in the 2021 budget to offset expected decreased revenues. The remaining $625,000 has been in reserve, and we are recommending we utilize $265,000 to offset the temporary revenue losses projected for 2022 such that they are not a tax increase burden for the citizens of Yorkton., she explained. 

In terms of capital dollars, the one per cent allocation is roughly an addition of $255,000, said Kaal. 

This will bring the annual capital total to $4,645,000 for 2022, and as this is a two-year capital budget there is a one per cent increase for 2023 towards capital (minimum) as well.

For the 2022 capital items, the majority of these were approved last year with our 2021 / 2022 capital budget. This included the initial funding for the York Road project, an estimated $17 million project which the City will fund in conjunction with Provincial funding from 2022 to 2027, with construction starting in 2023 for the roadway, with possibly some of the drainage and ditch work in 2022, said Kaal. 

“Additional projects to 2022 include upgrades to the Gallagher Centre ice plant, which will be funded through the recreation levy that’s already included in everyone’s tax bills, as well as well as work towards a Recreation Master Study,” she added. 

 Overall, the impact to the average residential homeowner would be roughly $8 a month.