Yorkton Council passed the City’s 2017 budget at its regular meeting Monday, and property taxes are going up.
But, to be fair local Council is not to be blamed for the majority of the increase.
For those wanting to single out a villain in terms of the increase they need to look to the provincial government of Premier Brad Wall.
The final impact to the 2017 Budget, from the Provincial Budget, equates to approximately $1,275,542 which is about 6.25 per cent.
So the breakdown of the 9.46 per cent increase laid out in the municipal budget is shows the majority of the increase; 6.25 per cent being due to provincial budget implications.
The claw back of provincial dollars to municipal governments may mean as much as $400 million over the next decade, according to Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association CEO Laurent Mougeot.
Now the province has introduced Bill 64 which would prevent court action against the changes.
Mougeot says the Bill gives the government the power to redirect royalties and also denies cities and towns the right to defend themselves in court.
The legislation is being called heavy handed by many.
While Minister of Government Relations Donna Harpauer has asked if it’s reasonable for two orders of government to spend money to fight it out in courts.
That may seem a reasonable position, but not all legislation is fair, nor frankly is it always legal.
In this case SUMA has claimed past agreements which included a guarantee that the municipality would forever get royalties on future sales of power should be a matter for the courts to decide.
Of course the Wall government’s decision to move forward with a Bill to prevent municipalities from taking the breaking of decades’ old contracts is at best heavy-handed and self-serving.
The Bill also appears to be cherry-picking when access to court action as a recourse is warranted.
A recent court ruling has said the province can’t provide Catholic schools funding for students who aren’t Catholic.
The court ruling is something Wall said his government will be looking into, suggesting the decision is not one they can agree with.
“Consider the implications here. If this has to be implemented by June of 2018, in that subsequent fall, you could have massively overpopulated public schools and empty or near empty separate schools. You actually risk the viability of community schools,” said Wall Monday in various media.
Wall said he’s asked Justice Minister Gord Wyant and Education Minister Don Morgan to look at possible constitutional options or legislative options in the Saskatchewan Education Act.
It has been hinted that the action could include a court appeal.
Such a situation leaves the question why the province could turn to the courts to determine a certain legality in terms of school funding, but the same government wants to bar municipalities from the same recourse in terms of existing contractual agreements?