BY ELIZABETH HUBER
City councillors expressed a lot of pride in the budget Monday as it was presented for approval. “We made it clear to (administration) that we wanted this to be as responsible budget as possible,” said councillor George Bowditch.
New to council as of the 2009 election, he commented on the way the seven public representatives worked together. “I think we did an awesome job actually working together ... as a team. And, the citizens of Swift Current I think will find that we did our very best,” he finished. Councillor Gord Budd, the veteran voice on council
reflected on the seventh budget he passed. He also described the budget as responsible and noted it can be changed depending on the financial times. A four per cent property tax increase was included for 2010. Budd vocalized his support of the increase. “I was certainly disappointed last year when we did not have a tax increase,” he said. “I know my own personal expenses go up a little bit each year and for us to have a zero per cent increase ... just doesn’t make sense,” he said. “That being said ... this four per cent increase is going to show the average homeowner paying roughly $2 more per month.”
Of the seven council members, four are new to the budget process. Budd recognized the new voices and perspectives that were brought to the table with a new and younger demographic. Councillor Dan Martens highlighted a number of infrastructure upgrades and investments scheduled for the upcoming year.
One example he noted is the completion of the Highway 1 and 4 interchange. About $3 million of the $16.9-million capital budget is dedicated to that project. Another example is the $1.2 million being invested into
Photo by Elizabeth Huber
Jerrod Schafer and his council brought in their first budget Monday. Here, Schafer addresses administration.
Fairview arenas to upgrade the dressing rooms and shower facilities in the older portion of the arena and a new concrete floor in the newer rink. “We’re maximizing some of the facilities that we already
Friday,April 23, 2010 - PRAIRIE POST - 17
Council proud of its first budget
Much of the budget speech presented focused on building for the future. Councillor Denis Perrault, thanked administration for helping the young councillors get through their first budget. He then expressed his “excitement in the future of Swift Current. “I would love to see a very useable leisure facility and to talk about a track that might be able to host a Saskatchewan Summer Games. The future is bright and I am very excited to be a part of it,” said Perrault.
Echoing sentiments of the councillors who spoke before him, Tim Bugera emphasized his pride in the budget. “It was probably my easiest budget process of the last four years I have gone through,” he said. Councillor Ryan Plewis was not in attendance at the Council meeting on Monday night when budget was approved. Mayor Jerrod Schafer wrapped up budget comments and took a moment to note the public’s role in the budgeting process.
“I think many, many of our facilities or many of our expenditures that have happened, have happened through the will of the public,” said Schafer who is in his first year as mayor.
“I think for the most part our citizens and residents want to see our community continue to grow and want to see our services and amenities continue to increase and improve and see our infrastructure continue to grow and accommodate the needs of our community. “I think this is a budget that lays the foundation for future
growth. We don’t have any really exciting major renovations ... certainly we have a lot of capital maintenance,” said Schafer.
Budget doesn’t hold too many surprises
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Within the City’s five year plan — a plan described as being extremely fluid and an opportunity to monitor where projects are on the radar for the city — a number of major capital projects are identified. The largest is a $24-million leisure aquatic facility. With that, a new fire hall, bridges over Highway 4 and South Railway Street and art gallery expansion are all examples of major
projects noted by the City. “I think the fire hall has been in the five- year plan for all seven budgets that I have been a part of,” said Schafer. “As our city changes and grows, we will look at when it comes the time that we can afford it and the right opportunity arises,” he said.
Each of the major capital projects would only go forward with funding in place and
Tax increase will vary
The City of Swift Current approved the 2010 budget totaling $37.8 million in operating and $16.9 million in capital, on Monday night.
The 2010 budget can be compared to $36.5 million in operating and $15.3 budgeted for 2009, the actual costs for the year were less than budgeted. City Council approved a four per cent tax
increase for 2010. The increase for the average homeowner translates into $20 to $26 annually for a typical three-bedroom bungalow, $20 or less per year for an older home and approximately $60 per year for a newer high-end home with an associated high assessment, according to numbers presented by the City.
Highlights of the budget include:
• $1.6 million for new residential and
commercial subdivision developments. This includes an eco friendly small lot residential development in the Saskatchewan Valley — the area behind the new hospital — and the completion of services for the Springs Valley commercial subdivision. • $1 million is committed to streets and sidewalks. • $360,000 will allow for continued upgrades to the electrical distribution system.
• $2.7 million is targeted for general capital maintenance and equipment replacement. • $15,000 is committed to the Battleford
Trail Walkway to install asphalt walkways and upgrade lighting.
• $85,000 will complete the Salteaux Park washrooms.
• $94,000 is dedicated to capital maintenance at the Art Gallery, Library and Museum.
• $160,000 is committed to the airport.
Rat situation being monitored
BY ELIZABETH HUBER
Last summer, the swear word around the City of Swift Current was rats. At the height of the rodent activity
reports indicated a kilogram of bait a day was being consumed at the dump. Town hall meetings were held and businesses owners took up arms against the insurgency within the City. A number of pest control officers were
brought into the City to lead the charge. National media coverage put Swift
Current in the spotlight and a bulls eye for sideways remarks and enquires. Each resident of the City was encouraged to clean their yards, orders
were issued and as fall approached the number of sightings seemed to be diminishing.
Just wait, they will be back in the spring, was the sentiment and fear shared by many.
The question now remains: Where are they? Is it safe to say they have moved out of town?
The tentative answer is yes. City crews have been monitoring rodent activity at any of the areas that caused concern last year, said Mac Forster, City of Swift Current director of engineering. “At this point in time, it appears that our
efforts have paid off quite well,” he added. “We have no concerns at this time.”
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Spring 2010 To Do List
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what debt the City can realistically acquire, administration noted. Going into 2010, the City’s long-term debt is $40.8 million. That compares to the $39.4 million the previous year. The net increase was solely due to the infrastructure spending the City has invested in to accommodate growth, said Tim Marcus, director of finance, primarily in Highland Subdivision and the Spring Valley
Commercial development. Money is recouped through the sale of property and the loan from the province is interest free for the next four years. A $100 property levy is also expected to
remain in place until 2016 as a means to continue paying for the Regional Hospital. “As new homes and new commercial developments come on to stream hopefully they contribute to that as well,” said Marcus.
Agriculture Financial Services Corporation
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