North Battleford has taken a big revenue hit in the wake of the provincial budget handed down last week.
The City is one of many communities across Saskatchewan dealing with the loss of SaskPower and SaskEnergy grants-in-lieu to municipalities. Those were eliminated in the budget handed down in the provincial legislature last Wednesday.
The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association released calculations of the amount of cuts to SUMA members, and compared them to 2017-18 revenue sharing numbers.
According to SUMA’s numbers, North Battleford is losing $1,132,155 of provincial revenue from grants-in-lieu.
Revenue sharing money is down as well from $3,032,953 in 2016-17 to $2,697,559 in 2017-18. With the $1,132,155 deducted from that latter number, SUMA estimates the amount of actual revenue sharing after removal of grants in lieu is $1,565,404, for a revenue drop of 48.39 per cent.
The cut to the Town of Battleford is not quite as drastic: they lost $84,228, with actual revenue sharing after grants-in-lieu calculated at $859,995 — a drop of eight per cent.
Still, the indication from SUMA is that its members felt “ambushed” by the cuts.
“Our members are outraged and so are we,” said SUMA in a news release Friday. They report more than 100 SUMA communities have been impacted, but cities hardest hit include Moose Jaw, Prince Albert and Yorkton, which lost $1,657,902 of grants in lieu. According to SUMA’s numbers that amounts to a 58 per cent cut in revenue from the province to that city alone from last year.
Saskatoon and Regina are also hard hit, with each city seeing $10,661,722 in grants-in-lieu eliminated. However, Finance Minister Kevin Doherty said last Wednesday that because Regina was disproportionately impacted, “measures will be taken to mitigate that impact.”
The next step appears to be legal action, spearheaded by the city of Saskatoon.
A special meeting was held in Saskatoon Sunday to address the shortfall the city is facing. In a news release issued afterwards, council said they wanted to “explore appropriate legal measures in co-ordination with SUMA and other affected municipalities — including a court injunction — to stop a provincial government plan that would create an $11.4 million shortfall in City finances.”
Also, the indication is Mayor Charlie Clark of Saskatoon, as well as other Mayors and municipal leaders, would meet with Minister of Government Relations Donna Harpauer on Wednesday.