Property tax plans

Several bylaws were approved during a regular council meeting to allow the City of Swift Current to proceed with issuing the 2020 property tax notices to residents and businesses.

The bylaws to establish the mill rate and the mill rate factors, as well as for the creation of a special tax to fund the long-term care facility, and to exempt certain properties from the 2020 assessment received three readings during the May 4 council meeting, which took place via video conference.

“The residents already received the assessments earlier this year, I think it was early February,” City Chief Administrative Officer Tim Marcus said during a video conference media briefing after the council meeting. “So everybody has gotten their assessment notice. The only thing left to go out now is the tax notice. Now the map can be done using the mill rate and the mill rate factors to multiply against the taxable assessment to come up with how much is owing.”

Residents and businesses will receive more time this year to pay their 2020 property taxes. The City has decided to give customers a three-month grace period to pay their residential and commercial property tax due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Property taxes are usually due by the end of June, but this year customers will have time until Sept. 30 to pay these taxes. The additional time to pay will be indicated on the 2020 property tax notices.

“It will say payable by Sept. 30 on the notice and it will include of course the school taxes and the portion of the taxes that are City taxes,” he said.

This year’s base tax amount on residential and residential condominium properties is $820 per property or per condominium unit, which is an increase of $20 compared to last year.

This is the fifth year of the 30-year special tax for the interest free repayment of the City’s contribution to the construction cost of The Meadows long-term care facility. A flat rate of $35 is charged on all residential properties. Owners of multi-family residential properties are charged $35 per unit.

The assessed value of commercial properties will determine the amount of this special tax paid by business owners. For commercial properties the special tax will vary between $58 and $303.

The bylaw on the exemption from taxation for the 2020 assessment identifies the properties that qualify for this exclusion. The properties listed in the bylaw are providing various services in the community and they are for the most part non-profit organizations.

“The criteria are that they have to be non-profit and they have to offer something to the community that might not be there if they didn't have,” Marcus explained. “It’s our way of being able to ensure that those services are provided in the city.”

The organizations listed in the bylaw vary from SaskAbilities, Southwest Homes, Southwest Crisis Services and the Canadian Mental Health Association to the Salvation Army, the Mennonite Central Committee furniture store, the Southwest Cultural Development Group (Lyric Theatre) and the Swift Current SPCA. It also includes an exemption for Elmwood Golf Club.

“We treat Elmwood the same way we treat the City golf course, Chinook,” he said. “The City's golf course on the south side doesn't pay municipal taxes. So it wouldn't be fair to charge them to Elmwood and have a disparity between the two courses in the rates that could be provided.”

Distribution of Western Canada Summer Games legacy funds:

Council received and filed the final report for the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games from the Games Manager Denise Barbier. The meeting also approved the distribution of $155,061 in legacy funds to various organizations.

Swift Current was the host city for the games, which was the largest event to be hosted in southwest Saskatchewan. It brought 1,581 athletes and coaches to the region from three western provinces and three northern territories. The athletes competed in 16 sports during the 10-day event in August 2019.

The total operating budget for the event, including value-in-kind contributions, was approximately $3.7 million. The Saskatchewan government contributed $1.5 million in cash towards the games. The City of Swift Current made a cash contribution of $900,000 and also supported the games with value-in-kind contributions of $300,000.

Tourism Saskatchewan carried out an analysis of the tourism and economic impact of the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games. It indicated the total gross output for the tourism impact of the event was $1,040,000 and created 13.13 jobs. The total gross output for operational expenses of the games was $4,730,000 and created 22.53 jobs.

There was a surplus of funds at the end of the games due to careful control of spending, generous support of local volunteers and businesses, better than expected ticket sales, and a start-up loan of $20,000 from the Western Canada Games Council that did not have to be repaid. It made it possible to have $155,061 available in a legacy fund, and the City of Swift Current is responsible for distributing these funds.

The goal is to use these funds to support youth and sport in the region. Council approved the detailed list for the distribution of the legacy funds. Various sport programs and organizations as well as community programs will receive money from this fund.

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