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Editorial: Many wants and needs but dollars available limiting factor

Finances will be at forefront of decisions
Yorkton Council some key decisions ahead in 2022. (File Photo)
YORKTON - As a new year dawns it is natural to wonder what lies ahead for the city? 

The first thing to realize of course as Yorkton Council works through another year is that there will not be enough dollars to fulfill all the requests made by the community. 

Through 2021, we saw presentations made to Council about the need for an indoor basketball facility to help deal with the growth of that sport among youth, the merits of a pump bike track, the need for a City-owned football field to facilitate growth in youth football, and the list goes on. 

We also know Council is already looking at spending millions on a new Deer Park Golf Course Clubhouse, and either a major retrofit of the existing Kinsmen Arena, or as an option an even bigger project of building a new ice rink and tieing it into the existing Gallagher Centre complex. 

And those are just recreational facility wants and needs. 

Anyone who has followed Yorkton Council in stories in this publication will be keenly aware the municipality, like most cities across Saskatchewan and Canada, face a massive infrastructure deficit. Certainly Trent Mandzuk, Director of Public Works with the City has pointed out on various occasions that it will take decades at current spending levels to replace the City’s water and sewer lines, sidewalks, gutters and street pavement, even though in the cases of some of that infrastructure it is already well beyond its anticipated life expectancy. 

While we might be able to patch pavement, or slow down to avoid a growing number of potholes, and deal with crumbling sidewalks, deteriorating sewer and water lines are more concerning, dollars to increase replacement spending and speed the long replacement times are not easily found – at least without huge tax increases. 

And, this Council were rather vocal following the last election they wanted to keep tax increases to a minimum, and they managed to hold the line with a zero per cent increase to overall tax dollars collected in 2021. 

That was seen as prudent given the unknowns of being in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic, and the swings in property assessment coming from the most recent reassessment in Saskatchewan. 

This time around, as Council delves into the public reveal of its 2022 budget in the coming weeks, the pressures on the numbers, including additional RCMP costs and reduced funding from the province will almost assuredly mean an increase in property taxes. 

But the increase won’t likely have much impact on the infrastructure deficit, and the recreational facility needs that remain to be dealt with too, which ultimately suggests a somewhat tumultuous year ahead with rough decisions on the Council agenda.