During their last council meeting of 2020, members of Meadow Lake city council passed their 2021 budget.
The budget process in Meadow Lake started before the provincial election with town administrators getting operating and capital budget documents ready for discussion, said Mayor Merlin Seymour.
Mayor and councillors agreed that due to the stress and challenges of COVID-19 they did not want to make 2021 more difficult for residents by increasing taxes on property owners.
“Things are tough enough for everyone already. We just felt that keeping our taxes as they were, we may have to sharpen our pencils a little bit, which we did. Holding our taxes for our residents, that was a priority for us.”
The city will once again be focusing on infrastructure maintenance with $1.8 million worth of improvements to water and sewer in the east part of the city as part of a 10-year disaster mitigation program. This year will see $950,000 go towards paving improvements throughout the city, $840,000 will go towards replacing underground utility infrastructure, and $300,000 will go towards improving city equipment.
Replacing ageing infrastructure is a province-wide problem for all sizes of communities. Seymour said they are working to stay on top of it in Meadow Lake as well.
“It's a long process and we're not the only municipality that has infrastructure problems. But we're trying to keep on top of it as best we can with funds that are available.”
With this being a provincial assessment year, residents may see the changes in the value of their property which may change tax rates, but these changes will not be made by the city.
The Long Term Care levy that was put in place in 2013 will remain for 2021, said City Manager Diana Burton. The levy is going towards the new long-term care facility with the city paying for 10 per cent of the total cost. Burton estimates that the levy will be in place for seven years until the city’s portion of the facility is paid off, she said.
“We have just over $2 million in our reserve accounts and our capital contributions with 10 per cent of the capital cost of the new long term care facility is expected to be around $4 million. So we have about half of it saved up and we would have to get a loan for the remaining half.”
Construction of the facility started in May 2020.
Council passed the budget on Dec. 14 as part of their regular council meeting but discussion took place before the new council was elected in November. Seymour said the city administration worked hard to bring new councillors up to speed and answer any questions they had so they could be fully informed regarding the budget.