Corman Park council adopts 2018 budget

Corman Park Reeve Judy Harwood

Corman Park residents are looking at an average municipal property tax increase of 2.9 per cent in 2018.
Corman Park council adopted its 2018 budget at a meeting on Monday, December 18.
“Our goal was to keep the increase to under four per cent, for sure,” said Corman Park Reeve Judy Harwood in an interview following the adoption of the budget. “It’s always a quandary because we want to keep ratepayers happy by keeping taxes low, while at the same time maintaining and improving services to residents and businesses.”
Corman Park Administrator Adam Tittemore said one of the difficulties faced by the municipality in nailing down its budget for the coming year is that the final assessment numbers are not in from the province.
“We have some outstanding things left with our 2017 assessment,” said Tittemore in a n interview on December 19. “We haven’t got any of our appeals back yet, so it’s hard for us to project what our assessment is going to be for 2018.
“We know we will have growth in assessment, but we don’t know what that number is, so we’re using our best estimate.”
Tittemore said the projected municipal property tax increase works out to an average of 2.9 per cent, but it “could be less depending on what our final assessment numbers come in at.
“If we have growth, then the taxes will be spread out more and that will lessen the overall tax burden on everyone.”
Based on the projected budget, the average municipal property tax for a residential property assessed at $350,000 would be $1,400 in 2018. This represents an increase in the municipal portion of property tax of 2.9 per cent, which translates into a hike of $40.60 per year or $3.38 per month over 2017.
For a commercial property with a taxable assessment of $500,000, the municipal portion of its 2018 property tax would amount to $2,530, an increase of $73.37 per year or $6.12 per month over last year.
Tittemore said the education portion of property tax is still not known because that falls under provincial jurisdiction.
Tittemore said the 2018 budget assumes no increases or decreases in revenue sharing grants from the province.
“We have budgeted status quo on all our funding numbers as far as provincial revenue-sharing dollars,” he said. “If we get more than last year, then that would save our ratepayers some dollars, but we’re not counting on that.
“In general, we’re trying to be safe when it comes to revenues.”
Tittemore said the RM had to find an additional $282,000 in its budget to cover the cost of Provincial Sales Tax (PST) that must now be paid on gravel, capital projects and other purchases. The change was introduced as part of the provincial government’s budget in the spring of 2017.
“The impact of the PST change the province made last year is showing up this year,” said Tittemore. “Last year most of the expenditures for things like gravel occurred in the first quarter, which was before the changes were made.
“This year, just with the increase in PST alone, we have an additional expenditure in our budget of $282,000.
“That, in itself, is just about a three per cent increase in our overall taxation.
“So that’s a big one that council had to contend with. We’re pretty happy with what we were able to do with our other operations to help offset that, and make it so we don’t have to pass that much along to people.”
The RM has allocated $3.05 million for capital projects in 2018. The biggest projects include: rebuilding and paving a mile of Neuhorst Road north of Powerline Road ($1.4 million); Phase 3 of Valley Road ($850,000); and building an addition to the RM of Corman Park office ($450,000).
Tittemore said a number of different options are currently being explored for expanding the RM office in Saskatoon. Funding for the project is coming out of reserves, so there was no need for any tax increase to help pay for it, said Tittemore.
The office was originally built in 1982, at a time when the RM staff consisted of three people.
“Now, we’re up to 17 staff and our police force, which is also operating out of this office,” said Tittemore. “We have people who are sharing offices and it’s quite cramped. So we are definitely short of office space and also short on meeting space.”