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Guest Editorial: Budget news…bah, humbug!

This week's Guest Editorial with Joyce Walters
JoyceWalterGuestEditorial

The news came at the same time as local organizations were requesting even more help this year to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and to bring a bit of the Christmas season to the less fortunate in the community.

This news was to be expected but the timing, at first glance, seems a bit heartless, a bit grinch-like as residents deck their halls with boughs of holly, put out a substantial amount for the Christmas turkey and now are forced to consider where they will get the money to pay the potential increased amount of civic taxes.

The news: a projected municipal tax increase of 4.86 per cent for the 2022 tax year. This figure includes a 1.61 per cent increase for the Moose Jaw Police Service. The budget also calls for an additional three per cent increase in sewer rates and an additional three per cent increase in water rates.  

And the infrastructure levy will rise to $100 from $65.

Merry Christmas from the city fathers and mothers.

On Christmas Eve carollers will sing: “We wish you a Gloomy Christmas and a more expensive unhappy New Year.”

At one time budget discussions took place in the early months of a new year, meaning the news might reveal a tax increase but by April or May, bills from Christmas had been paid and so there wasn’t the double whammy effect of the figures being announced just weeks before Christmas

To be fair to council, budget planning before the new year begins makes considerably more sense than waiting until it is half finished. Council figured that out several years ago and made valiant attempts to finish deliberations before the noisemakers signalled the start of a new year.

However, the timing of a tax increase announcement just before Christmas can’t help but draw negative comments from any number of citizens, especially those who will have to scrimp to pay increased taxes and skyrocketing water and sewer bills.

Council members sit there between a rock and a hard place, trying to balance needs with wants and attempting to figure out how to pay for the services residents expect for their money — with expenses up and revenues down on both sides of the fence.

As council debates the city’s finances, perhaps sharpened pencils will reduce some of the taxation heartache that is taking away our Holly, Jolly Christmas mood.

Joyce Walter can be reached at ronjoy@sasktel.net

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.