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Thursday, 07 April 2016 07:00

The spending habits of Swift Current council seem to be out of control

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They did it to us again. 
Last week, our City Council introduced the 2016 budget. It included a 14.37 per cent tax increase. Included in that is six per cent from a bylaw passed three years ago, $119 increase in the base tax (six per cent on average) and another 2.37 per cent for the capital budget. 
In the past six years, Council has raised our taxes by 70 per cent, by far and away more than any other municipal jurisdiction in the province. 
The $119 increase on the base tax also hurts those who can least afford it. For example the increase on a property with a $700 tax bill would amount to a 17 per cent increase in taxes in addition to the other six per cent and 2.37 per cent increases. Their total increase would be 25.37 per cent. Meanwhile a larger house with a $3,000 tax bill would see a total increase of 12.17 per cent. As you can see the lower-assessed property would get hit twice as hard as the higher-priced property.
There seems to be no effort to reign in our spending in the operating budget. Businesses and individuals are often having to cut back on our spending in difficult times, but the answer for the City is always the same; spend more and make it up with tax increases. The Mayor even indicated cutting small amounts here and there would not amount to much so let’s not do that. He obviously hasn’t heard of the phrase, “take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.”
We have a lot of people in our community who are hurting right now as a result of the downturn in the oil prices. Some have lost their jobs, others have had their hours cut back. Those people and others on a fixed income simply can’t afford any Increase in taxes, let alone 14 per cent. Businesses are struggling as well and don't need this added burden either.
On top of the huge tax increase is a six per cent increase in water and sewer rates and a five per cent increase in garbage collection fees as well as an increase in our power rates in January. 
The Mayor stated he wished Council had adopted a debt reduction strategy 10 years ago. It’s no coincidence that this is about the same time he was elected and we began to run up our debt to unprecedented levels. It’s kind of hard to have it both ways.
Those Council members intending to run in the civic election this fall may have a difficult time justifying a 70 per cent tax increase in the past six years.
Don Robinson, Swift Current, Sask.

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