Estevan city council approved the 2021 budget at Monday night’s meeting, following discussions about the document’s contents and third-party grants.
For the third consecutive year, there won’t be an increase to the municipal portion of property tax, and for the second time in three years, there won’t be an increase to water consumption rates.
The last property tax increase was a one per cent bump in 2018.
Mayor Roy Ludwig said council thought it was important to hold the line on property taxes. People have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
“We felt that at this time, if we can hold the line, let’s do it,” said Ludwig. “That’s one less issue that our people, that our community, has to deal with.”
One move that council did make was to trim the third party grants to $1,322,771, which is the same amount that was awarded in 2020, and then they will have to make a presentation to council to discuss the funding. The 2021 budget initially called for more than $1.4 million.
The budget was initially discussed at a special meeting in January. It was shared on the city’s website a few days later, and council asked the public for feedback.
The Estevan Chamber of Commerce wanted to know whether the Churchill Playpark would still have a paddling pool after repairs are made. Ward said it would.
The other question was whether Bay Meadows would regain a greenspace. Ward said that has not been discussed, but there used to be a park in the subdivision until it was developed as part of a townhouse development.
There was also a request from a different individual on the police budget, and whether it’s comparable with other police forces of a similar size. There were also concerns with Estevan Police Service patrolling outside the city through the Combined Traffic Services of Saskatchewan, which also includes the RCMP.
Those concerns will be forwarded to the police board.
Ludwig noted the budget is a "living, breathing document," and changes could still be made regarding a couple of large grants the city has applied for.
This week's edition of the Mercury will have more on this story.