In his first major speech since he was sworn in as premier, Scott Moe announced the province will face another “tight budget” and hinted at a rework of the municipal revenue sharing formula.
Moe took the podium Monday morning at the annual Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) convention in Regina. Many elected officials and administers across the province are attending, including Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne.
Heavy lobbying has taken place from municipalities as the government eye’s a rejig of the current formula. Moe said any new funding model will have to be “affordable for the province as Saskatchewan.”
“We need to have a discussion on what this is going to look like into the future so that municipalities can have the stable predictable funding that they require,” he told media after the speech.
Any changes to revenue-sharing are not expected to be ready in time for the upcoming budget, which Moe announced will come forward on April 10, a few weeks later than usual.
Dionne has been vocal on leaving the funding formula as is, at one per cent of PST revenues. While not deviating from this position, saying “it is not broken, leave it alone,” Dionne was ecstatic to see the province now willing to sit down and consult.
“This is all we ever asked for, is to be consulted and [for them to] talk to us,” he said. “Part of the outcry is caused because you are surprised. You're never positive on a surprise unless you win a million dollars. They don’t want that anymore.”
Details on grant-in-lieu payments also arose in Moe’s speech. According to the premier, these tweaks are expected to be in the upcoming budget.
When the province slashed grant-in-lieu payments and revenue sharing in its latest budget, municipal coffers were shorted $3.5 million in 2018 and $2.5 million last year. This left the city in “crisis mode” last March.
With Moe saying the province is expected to face another tight run at the books, Dionne reiterated how the city has "planned for that.”
“We knew it wasn’t going to rain dollars back to us, but we think it is important they have given the extra time,” he said. “We have February and March now to talk about it and so I am hopeful that process will go [well].”
A number of resolutions will come forward Tuesday afternoon, including two sponsored by the city.
-- with files from CJME
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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