WEYBURN – When residential taxpayers receive the property tax bill from the City of Weyburn this year, it will likely show an increase from last year’s bill.
The question many taxpayers will have is whether such an increase is justifiable, or needed, by the City.
Part of the bill is the base tax, which is $710, and is the same charge for every residential taxpayer, covering the cost of police, fire, snow removal and street sanding. This covers a total of 4,215 properties, of which 3,471 are residential properties, and 744 are condo properties.
This tax went up $40 from last year and will hit everyone the same, whether they can afford the extra tax or not.
There have been many discussions about this tax in the past, with questions of its fairness because of the way it is charged the same both to those with a high income and those with a low income. As it is a property tax, the problem is that, in this city, the tax is not income-based, which would be the only way to make it fair.
The remainder of the tax bill comes from the other departments that provide services to the residents of Weyburn. This covers everything from public works (traffic lights, streets and sidewalks) to the city’s leisure facilities (ice rinks, the Leisure Centre and the CU Spark Centre), the public library, the parks, the water treatment plant and sewage system, the landfill – in short, everything that is provided for residents to live and work in this city.
As a note of interest, a report just came out from Slice.ca that ranked the cost-of-living levels in cities across Canada, and Weyburn is ranked 17th on the list of the “cheapest cities to live in” across this country.
Weyburn has been nationally ranked before on other lists, including naming this city as one of the best places to live on the prairies, and in Canada as a whole, and this ranking shows that this honour is not an accident.
It also shows that, while a tax increase is not something anyone likes or wants to see, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not as bad as one would think. On a national scale, factored in with other criteria like the cost of food and gas and other necessities, we’re doing okay here in southeast Saskatchewan, better than some much larger urban centres.
There is also the point that the services residents expect from their municipality, whether it’s snow clearing or garbage pickup or good quality water out of the tap, all cost money to upkeep the infrastructure and equipment.
In addition, there are the city employees who operate and maintain these various services, like running a grader at 2 a.m. to clear snow so motorists can get to school or to work in the morning.
In short, the tax bill may not be welcome news when it arrives in the mail, but it is a necessary expense to live in one of the best cities in Canada.