Thursday April 17, 2014

EDITORIAL - Costs to economic strength


The local and Saskatchewan economies remains strong when you use most of the traditional economic measuring sticks, from wholesale and retail sales figure, through to export numbers and unemployment figures.

The numbers mean an active economy, and we see that locally with building projects around the city, a reality reflected if one visits Regina, or Saskatoon as well.

The provincial population has edged over one million, and appears ready to continue to grow moving forward based on an economy which is based in three primary elements the world is going to remain hungry for for the foreseeable future; fuel (oil and uranium), fertilizer (potash) and food ( agricultural production).

But with such growth and strength comes costs too, and locally we are seeing that each time Yorkton Council sits to formulate a new annual budget, or to set fees for the upcoming year.

There are costs associated with growth, and Yorkton residents are finding that out as they face ever increasing costs.

Property taxes in Yorkton will jump 5.5 per cent in 2014, most of it going to infrastructure renewal something recognized and supported in this space previously.

But the tax increase will mean an average home in Yorkton currently assessed at $200,000 will pay an additional $72 a year in taxes.

In isolation the increase is significant, but not overly burdensome.

But taxes are not the only cost residents face which they have little choice but to adjust the personal budget to absorb.

In this week’s issue is a story on Yorkton Council approving a 3.09 per cent increase in water and sewer rates.

With the proposed rates, a family of three using 5,500 gallons per month of consumption, will have a monthly bill increase to $74.95/month from $72.72/month or $2.23/month increase.

The 2014 rate increase will be the fourth straight year the utility has climbed by roughly three per cent.

On Monday Yorkton Council also made it official by unanimously supporting an 18 per cent increase in residential garbage fees.

The increase will mean a $1.70 per month increase in 2014 for residential consumers.

The three municipal increases start to add up in terms of a monthly bite out of household budgets, even in better economic times.

Of course municipal fees are not the only ones we may face. SaskPower, as an example is requesting a 5.5 per cent rate increase effective Jan. 1, 2014, a five per cent rate increase effective Jan. 1, 2015, and another five per cent rate increase effective Jan. 1, 2016.

Then there is SaskEnergy, SGI, and of course SaskTel amid the Crowns which can chip away at any economic gains we enjoy.

And therein lies another side of economic strength, the need to pay the costs associated with growth.



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