The Town of Battleford is cautiously optimistic municipalities may fare better this year compared to last year, based on announcements from the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) convention this week.
Mayor Ames Leslie is attending the event in Regina, and said it was noteworthy to hear the province may be coming out with a new funding formula for municipal revenue sharing.
“I think any good politician makes anything sound promising,” Leslie said. “We’ll just have to wait to see. Whenever it’s a formula, it works for some communities and it doesn’t for others. We’ll have to see how it fits for Battleford and the Battleford area.”
Leslie said last year's cuts to the grants-in-lieu that came down from the province "definitely hurt the funding of the town."
“Fortunately, last year some of the losses in grants-in-lieu was overshadowed by the census – how much the town of Battleford grew,” said Leslie. “So our revenue sharing had increased enough to overshadow a good portion of the grants-in-lieu [loss.] We weren’t impacted as hard as those communities that didn’t grow significantly.”
Leslie said the premier didn’t release any information or set any date for meetings on municipal revenue sharing yet.
Leslie also said the Premier noted he would revisit the funding for education, as well as the PST charge on insurance premiums.
“That’s the first good start to see that go back to the budget, but it would be interesting to see if that plan means there are going to be cuts elsewhere, or if it’s an extension of the repayment plan. I guess we’ll see that here April 10,” said Leslie.
Leslie added if the province is going to put more funding back into education, and remove the PST charge on insurance premiums, then "that money has to come from somewhere.”
The City of North Battleford was particularly impacted in 2017 by cuts to grants-in-lieu revenue, and had to revise its budget as a result. Mayor Ryan Bater was not available for comment.
Newly minted Premier Scott Moe also announced the provincial budget is expected to be tabled on April 10.
The convention wraps up tomorrow.
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