Saturday November 29, 2014

City taxes going up for 2015

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Yorkton Council took its first look at the City’s 2015 budget at its regular meeting Monday.

The tax increase laid out in the report presented, is a significant one at six per cent. The increase would come on the heels of the 5.5 per cent hike for 2014.

Director of Finance Lonnie Kaal said the proposed tax increase comes from three distinct areas within the budget.

The Saskatchewan Consumer Price Index between May 2013 and May 2014 is 2.5 per cent, offered Kaal.

“Operating Costs are increasing more than CPI given rising fuel, contract and labour costs,” detailed the report circulated to Council. “When applying tax growth and increased grants to the operating budget, a 1.97 per cent tax increase is required.”

Kaal said a decision was made to add an increase in maintenance funding totalling a 1.27 per cent tax increase.

The combination means a proposed 3.24 per cent increase dedicated to operating.

“The Capital Budget requires additional dollars to improve the state of the City’s assets, namely streets and facilities.” detailed the report. “The capital budget requires a 2.75 per cent tax increase.”

When the operating and capital increases are combined the six per cent total increase is realized.

On the Capital side of the budget the proposed spending is $13,107,960 less funding from utilities, reserves and grants, meaning $4,080,000 will be required from taxes.

The Capital Budget increase of $500,000 is 14 per cent more than 2014.

“The capital budget requires additional dollars to upgrade and replace existing worn out assets,” detailed the report. “An increase of $500,000 is planned with $200,000 dedicated to storm line replacement, and $300,000 towards future debt payments for the public works building.”

Drainage projects will draw $1,560,000 from the 2015 budget, while road construction will draw $2,725,000.

Yorkton has doubled the amount of funds dedicated to capital in the last seven years, said Kaal, adding capital expenditues will be “a continual challenge going forward.”

In terms of operating, Kaal called it “very much a same as, budget.”

That said there are a few changes of note.

“Council previously approved an additional $200,000 for street resurfacing to provide asphalt overlays in critical areas,” detailed the report. “Further, the use of the durapatcher will be extended to fix potholes.”

Annual debt payments are the same as in 2014 at $1,800,045.

Allocations to Reserves remain the same at $705,000. By placing funds in reserves, future capital projects have some savings set aside for expenditures.

Councillor Les Arnelien noted, “we have a huge budget in front of us, a huge tax increase.” With that in mind he said it was “common sense” to table the budget until a future meeting of Council to allow business and homewowners to have feedback.

Arnelien would make the motion to table the budget until the Sept. 8, meeting of Council, a motion supported by all but Coun. Chris Wyatt who sat opposed.

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