If any one of the three orders of government suddenly stopped providing public services, an absence of municipal services would create the most obvious hole in our daily routines.Within five minutes of waking up everyday, we use water to quench our thirst, shower or flush the toilet. Municipalities treat and provide water.
En route to work, we do not even notice the high level of order that makes us feel secure. The streets are generally free of crime, garbage has been collected and traffic moves in a predictable manner. Our city, town and village governments have provided valuable services such as police protection, traffic regulation, waste disposal and many other services without which, our lives would be chaos.
The list of municipal responsibilities is constantly growing, largely because of offloading from the provincial government. For example, urban municipalities with a population with more than 1,000 must maintain portions of provincial government. For example, urban municipalities with a population with more than 1,000 must maintain portions of provincial highway that pass through a city, town or village.
Communities, such as the City of Humbolt, have been asked to pay 35 per cent of healthcare facility upgrade costs. Urban municipalities are constantly ncreasing their responsibility in environmental stewardship. The province and urban municipal governments all want to provide adequate services for the residents of Saskatchewan. For municipalities, increases in responsibility, whether voluntary or legislated by the province, mean more costs. Higher expenditure poses challenges for the cities, towns and villages because they must 'makedo' with a very limited revenue base.
Compared to the Provincial Government, municipalities lack the ability to raise revenue. Where other orders of government receive revenue form income tax, sales tax, VLT revenues and tack on tariffs and fees to anything under the sun, property taxes remain the chief source of revenue for municipalities. Facing increased responsibility, matched with a limited revenue base, the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association approached the province for more funds for cities, towns and villages. As well, Saskatchewan's mayors and councillors have requested a long-term plan for municipal funding from the province so that councils can plan projects that lead growth, sustainability and economic development.
Without more funds, councils face two choices raise property taxes or cut services.
Councils believe that property taxpayers are paying enough already but the alternative would be to impose budget cuts on policing, fire protection, waste disposal, water treatment or other important services.
The Town of Esterhazy supports SUMA in its campaign for a long-term predicable plan for increased funds for municipalities. The residents of cities, towns, and villages deserve a better deal from the province.
SASKATCHEWAN URBAN MUNICIPALITIES ASSOCIATION AND ESTERHAZY MAYOR AND COUNCIL