Estevan's city council discussed some of the feedback and potential hangups around taxes that were in the latest budget for 2024.
Councillor Tony Sernick said that the budget was good in a lot of ways but he had heard from members of the community that a two-per-cent tax increase would negatively impact businesses.
“They just don’t want to see anything. Again, in 2021 and in past years, taxes have went up. In this budget, I see that we have a surplus budget, we’re putting down the debt and we have money in the bank. So that’s just another reason why I was going to vote against the two per cent,” said Sernick.
The carbon tax has affected the city's budgetary considerations.
“We did a bit of investigating I believe this year we spent over $200,000 in carbon tax,” said Councillor Travis Frank
“We are the only city that has done no tax increase for now for the last four or five years,” said Frank. “At this point, I would support the tax increase based on the fact that our expenses keep going up.”
Councillor Shelly Veroba said that she is in favour of the two-per-cent increase as Estevan has not seen a lot of tax increases. The goal of the council is to pay the debt down by 2030, and the increase will help to ensure that the budget is in good shape if the city doesn’t see the growth it’s expecting.
She also noted that the budget has come a long way, but it is council’s burden to carry for the next council.
Councillor Lindsay Clark added that the council aims to help as many groups as they can to be able to function. The two-per-cent tax increase would help them assist more with these groups.
Councillor Kristen Walliser agreed with the budget. She said that the administration and management have been working to make sure that debt repayment remains a priority. They have also prioritized offering the same level of service with the additional challenge of increasing collective bargaining agreements, living index increases and carbon tax increases.
She said sticking to the debt repayment plan frees up time and continued investment in the community.
Councillor Rebecca Foord said was in favour of the budget as it allowed for contract negotiations
“I think that’s something that’s really important to not only look at that increase because we’re also trying to keep people that work for us happy and well.
The motion for the budget to be approved as is was passed. It is noted that Sernick is opposed.