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Moose Jaw's tax base paying more despite little growth in population

The amount of taxation revenue city hall collected from taxpayers increased by nearly 50 per cent from 2013 to 2018, according to information from the finance department
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While the amount of revenue that city hall has collected from taxpayers has increased during the last six years, the municipality’s assessment growth rate and population levels have not seen a parallel increase.

The department of financial services presented two reports during the most recent city council meeting in response to queries from Coun. Brian Swanson during the Dec. 9, 2019 meeting. He asked about what the actual revenues from municipal property tax, water and sewer billings, and solid waste/recycling collection were from 2013 to 2018, and, what the assessment growth in Moose Jaw was during the past 10 years.

“I asked because those are the various methods by which the city collects revenues from the property tax base,” said Swanson.

Municipal tax revenues

In 2013, city hall collected revenues from municipal taxation and grants in lieu, and water and sewer billing charges, for a total of $32.5 million. Revenue from those three sources increased to $34.94 million a year later.

In 2015, recycling collection charges were added and city hall collected $38.46 million in revenues. In 2016 that number jumped to $40.86 million.

In 2017 waste collection charges were added and city hall pulled in $44.18 million from taxpayers. A year later that number increased to $48.07 million.

Based on these numbers, the amount of taxation revenue city hall collected from taxpayers during those five years increased by nearly 50 per cent, Swanson pointed out, or on average of about 10 per cent each year. This is in comparison to the low assessment and population growth during the same time.

Assessment growth

The data from the finance department shows for assessment growth:

  • 2010: an increase of 2.97 per cent
  • 2011: an increase of 0.61 per cent
  • 2012: an increase of 0.54 per cent
  • 2013: an increase of 1.90 per cent
  • 2014: an increase of 1.31 per cent
  • 2015: an increase of 2.40 per cent
  • 2016: an increase of 1.27 per cent
  • 2017: an increase of 0.90 per cent
  • 2018: a decrease of 0.08 per cent
  • 2019: an increase of 0.54 per cent

The area of assessment is also another term for tax base growth, where the municipality can assess property taxes or receive grants in lieu. If a Crown corporation has a physical presence in a community, the provincial government pays municipalities grants in lieu funding instead of property taxes since governments do not tax each other.  

The recent agreement between the City of Moose Jaw and SaskPower, in which the Crown company plans to build a $700-million combined cycle natural gas plant here, indicates that SaskPower will not pay any grants in lieu or property taxes since that is standard for all energy generating plants or stations in the province.

Moose Jaw’s population in 2016 was 33,890 people, according to the census from Statistics Canada. In 2011, the municipality’s population was 33,274 people. This means the population increased by 616 people — or by 1.9 per cent — from 2011 to 2016.

According to the Ministry of Health’s covered population numbers — which only counts persons who are registered for provincial health coverage and have a health card, which could also encompass rural residents who used the hospital here — in 2015 Moose Jaw’s population was 36,118 people. In 2014 it was 36,409; in 2013 it was 36,003; in 2012 it was 35,508; in 2011 it was 35,671; and in 2010 it was 37,046.

The next regular council meeting is Monday, Jan. 27.