Weyburn’s city council passed the 2021 budget on Monday evening, with a small increase in taxes as the city’s services and programs will be maintained going into the new year.
The new council had a definite challenge in front of them, to maintain the level of services that the residents and businesses of the city need and want, without adding to their tax burden with increases.
Part of the increase will be shared equally with all residential property owners and condo owners, a total of 4,240 properties, as the base tax was increased from $660 to $670, to cover off the costs of police and fire protection, and the services of snow removal and sanding of streets.
The principle of this flat tax is to make everyone pay the same amount, but in practice, this tax is the same whether for a large well-appointed home and property or for an older home of a far lesser value and income level.
The issue of fairness all depends on one’s perspective — for a senior who’s barely making ends meet while dealing with COVID challenges, it’s hardly going to be the same as for someone who can easily afford the tax bill.
For the remainder of the increase, thankfully the hike is only 1.6 per cent, with the dollar amount to be determined once the mill rates are set by council. Again, for someone who is struggling to make ends meet, any amount of increase will pose a challenge, but at least the amount will be small compared to 2020’s tax level.
Overall, the budget does a good job to keep expenses as close to spending levels last year as possible, and there are improvements being made in the infrastructure and facilities of the city that will be of benefit to everyone.
One of the biggest projects that residents will get to see come to fruition this year is the completion of the culture and recreation centre, the Credit Union Spark Centre.
This facility, which will open alongside the new Legacy Park Elementary School on Fifth Street in September of this year, will provide indoor sports facilities, a new arts and culture space that will be a major upgrade from the Signal Hill Arts Centre, and recreation amenities that will be a plus for anyone who wishes to take advantage, such as the indoor walking track.
Other various improvements include a new HVAC system in the Leisure Centre, road repairs, pathway paving, ongoing improvements to sidewalks and pedestrian accessible ramps, and improvements to the city’s water treatment plant.
The bottom line is, the City of Weyburn is and has been one of the best communities to live in on the Prairies, and this budget seeks to maintain and if possible, improve the quality of life in a way that will benefit all residents and businesses.