Council in Melfort has finalized their 2018 budget.
“An average tax increase I’ll say of 3.14 (percent) because it’s not consistent across the board, depending on the assessed value of your property” explains Mayor Rick Lang.
“The average assessment will go up 3.14, which is probably one of the lowest tax increases we’ve had for quite some time.”
Lang says the increase isn’t out of line compared to other cities.
“Based on what I’m hearing from other cities, it’s certainly comparable, if not on the lower end” Lang says, citing some cities around 4 and a half percent.
Lang says administration was able to find some additional cost savings in their budget, including almost 10 thousand dollars by completing the tourism program in-house instead of contracting it to the Melfort Chamber.
Council opted to go with an option that saw some base tax increases along with a mill rate hike, instead of just increasing the mill rate.
The consensus among council is that the option they chose is more fair, meaning everyone gets a similar tax increase.
Meanwhile, the provincial budget will be tabled in April, and Lang hopes that there are no surprises that would force the city to change their own budget.
“At SUMA, the message was clear – (the provincial government is) still looking to balance the budget, and they’re still looking to do anything they can to balance the budget, and that’s scary when you hear that” admits Lang.
“I think every community that was in the room, particularly the cities, found that message (to be) a scary message, because we’ve had to deal with revenue cuts for the last two years, and they’re substantial revenue cuts.”
According to Lang, the city’s portion of revenue sharing was cut by about 150 thousand dollars this year, and council and administration also had to factor in the 330 thousand dollar cut to the grants-in-lieu program again this year.
Council will formally vote to pass the budget during Monday night’s council meeting.