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Rate hikes are a 'necessary evil'

It is an axiom of political life, that no one likes increases of taxes, or in the bills one receives from the local municipality to service ones residence or business.Sometimes, however, increases are a necessary evil; the taxes or fees are not increased out of a desire to bleed more money from the taxpayer, but (in this case) to cover the costs that the city incurs to provide essential services, such as water and sewer service, or the cost to operate facilities such as the Leisure Centres swimming pool, or the two rinks, Crescent Point Place and the Tom Zandee Sports Arena.As the increases passed by council (five per cent average increase in each of the next three years, starting on Sept. 1) pertained to recreational facilities, some residents may question the true necessity of it compared to such basic services as water and sewer, garbage pickup, fire and police services, and so on.Two major points brought up the necessity for the increase, as far as the city was concerned; one, the council has a stated long-term goal to achieve a 50-per-cent recovery of the cost to operate recreational facilities.Secondly, there is major construction going on with all three facilities: at the Leisure Centre, a new outdoor swimming pool is under construction, with the goal to be open by Canada Day, July 1; and major renovations are currently underway at both Crescent Point Place and the Tom Zandee Sports Arena, which should be completed by the fall.The increase in rates wont cover all that cost, but will assist the city somewhat with the ongoing operating costs. Thus, the two rinks will see a recovery of 53.5 per cent with the rate increase, while the Leisure Centre will see a recovery of 32.9 per cent.Philosophically, the arts, culture and sports are a vital and important part of a communitys life, and indeed goes to the quality of life for the residents. Technically speaking, these services may not be considered essential in the same way police or fire protection are, or services relating to the infrastructure of the city but in truth, a city is much more than her asphalt streets and the water and sewer pipes supplying each home and business, its an amalgam of all the services, homes, businesses and industries that comprise the city as a whole.There is always a concern whether non-users of a skating rink, for example, should have to pay for those who use it; this system, with a 50-per-cent rate of recovery, is a fair compromise, ensuring the facilities are there for whoever needs them.So, in the end, the rate increases may not be welcomed, but in this instance can be considered a necessary evil for the ongoing provision of the excellent quality of life Weyburn is known for, and which helps attract new residents to come and settle here to work and raise families.