The City of Weyburn presented Weyburn City Council with a preliminary municipal budget for the upcoming fiscal year during the October 24th regular meeting of City Council..
"We really changed the way we're doing budget," said City Manager Mathew Warren. "We wanted to have a lot more consultation, a lot more engagement with the public. This is the first time in my time with the City we've done this. For us to present a budget the way that we did, we've never done that, so really it's key to get the information out, really, to provide those key drivers of what we're seeing, some key initiatives we're seeing."
Along with the change in presentation, Warren also noted that there is a potential increase in municipal taxes.
"Right now we're looking at a 10.34% increase on our municipal taxes," he said. "For the budget, this is more just a starting point for us. The big thing for us for the budget is to provide that information of our key initiatives moving forward, present that to the public, and present that to Council and to make sure that we have that message out that this budget is just a starting point for us."
"This is a long process for us. We'll go through now public consultation," he continued. "Right now, we are seeking input from the public. It can be provided up to November 18th. What happens with that input, it actually helps our council make key decisions on how we want to move forward and budget. So what will happen is the presentation will be on the November 28th council meeting where we present back some of the comments we receive and some of the key things that we're hearing from the public. We know that 10.34% is not attainable, and we know that really is something that our taxpayers, both our residential and commercial tax base, cannot afford, but it's one of those things that now we'll get a direction from Council as a way to look at priorities and look at ways to decrease that budget moving forward."
He also noted that, while the City understands how residents may be concerned about the increase, there are several factors that the City needs to take into account.
"Much like anyone else in the world right now, we're feeling that inflation cost right now, we're seeing an increase in our operating costs, our utilities are increasing, we have an increase in fuel costs, so these are some things to take into consideration when we're doing budget. We also have some infrastructure projects we have to look at but we always have to be confident of really what's happening within the world and within our own public and when we look at the budget, we know that a 10.34 percent is just that starting point and for us, the goal is to get more information. We have received a lot of feedback from the public and we do encourage more feedback. That helps drive what we're doing and helps really guide our City Council."
He also added that all the budget information is currently available on the City website and residents are encouraged to look it over before having their say. One key piece for the City and residents is the 10.34 percent increase, which, as he explains, is available in the slide presentation.
"It's actually slide number 42 on our budget presentation, and it talks about the impact to our residents on the budget," he explained. "So if you look at an assessment of a property of $250,000, the way it breaks down is that municipal taxes would go up by $88.03, and our base tax would go up by $90.00. So in total would be $178.03 increase on an assessed value of a home of two hundred $250,000. One thing that people always have to realize is that when you look at your tax bill there are two parts of the tax bill. The one part we are talking about right now is what the municipal portion is and then also there is the education tax but the only thing that we're looking at is the municipality within the municipal tax that way. Right now, based on if we do move forward with a 10.34 percent increase, that would be about 178 dollars and three cents increase for a taxable assessment home of $250,000."
The biggest piece for the City right now is also for residents to have their say, in the most appropriate and centralized forum.
"We want to know what's going on in the community, we want people to really come back to us and provide their feedback and we've had some really great feedback to date. We have some really good platforms for people to provide feedback. All of your information on our budget can be found on our city website. We do ask people who do want to put comments in to go to a budget at weyburn.ca and e-mail that address. Also, there's an opportunity on our website to also provide feedback. That is all being tabulated and it's all to be presented at that November 28th meeting. The goal for us is to have a finalized budget with some of the input from the public back on to the December 12th council meeting."