Taxes up in Moosomin as infrastructure costs rise

June 20, 2019, 9:55 am
Kevin Weedmark


Moosomin town council passed the 2019 budget at Wednesday’s council meeting, including an increase of one mill in the mill rate—rising from 11.5 mills to 12.5 mills—and an increase of $250 in the minimum tax on residential buildings—rising from $500 to $750.

The mill rate was reduced from 15.5 mills to 11.5 mills in 2017 due to assessment revaluation, and remained the same in 2018. This year’s increase of one mill is an 8.7 per cent increase.

The minimum tax on residential buildings was introduced in 2015 at $250. The minimum tax increased to $400 in 2016 and to $500 in 2016, and was unchanged in 2018.

Mayor Larry Tomlinson said the council’s finance committee determined how much would need to be raised by the tax levy this year, then council members decided how to best raise that amount.

“The one mill we put it up is what we need to do,” he said.

“We’ve got so much going on with this infrastructure, it’s going to cost a lot.

“Rather than dig up the streets, we’re getting ACME to reline some sewers, which they can do without having to dig up the streets. There’s a lot of sewer work. They’ve done the main feed on Ellice. We’re done now from north of Park Avenue to the tracks, and we’ve put all new services in. Now we will continue on to the south, and we hope to pave that this summer. The pavers are coming by the end of July, so the push is on. We’re also spending quite a bit on pavement. A lot of this infrastructure should have been done years ago. It’s just never ending. We’ve done a lot of infrastructure work in the last few years and we’re still playing catch-up.”

He said there was some debate around the minimum tax. “Council felt that $500 wasn’t enough, that $750 comes closer to cover the cost of the services everyone gets. Some councillors wanted to go with a flat tax like Rocanville. I personally don’t believe in that. With a minimum tax of $750, I feel that’s where it needs to be to cover the basic services that we give. We brought it up some, so it’s more fair. On a base tax, if you charge some of the people in this town $1,700, I don’t think they can pay it. Some people can’t afford it.

“If you can build a house for $500,000 to $1 million, you must be able to afford the services. That’s only my opinion—I don’t know if that’s council’s opinion. There were some councillors who were really in favor of a base tax, but in my opinion you’re taking from people who are having trouble paying and compensating the people who can afford to pay it. That’s my thought.”

Infrastructure costs
The town is facing rising costs to maintain and repair its infrastructure. This year some of the main costs include:

  • $342,000 for recapping pavement at the following locations:
    - Windover Avenue from Henry Street to Wright Road;
    - Mark Avenue from Henry Street to Wright Road
    - Wright Road from Mark Avenue to Windover Avenue
    - Ellice Street from Front Street to Broadway Avenue

  • $110,000 for hot-mix asphalt repair

  • $30,000 for pavement crack sealing

  • $85,000 for gravel and sand crushing. The gravel will be used for water breaks and roadway gravel, and also for preparation of roadways for the paving contractor, and for use in building the Lake Avenue extension from Ogilvie Street to Saunders Road.
  • $250,000 for ACME Sewer Services to complete spot repairs and full block relining of sewer lines—$145,000 has been spent and another $105,000 has been budgeted.

  • $160,000 for a water main extension under the CPR tracks, a need identified by MPE Engineering to increase water pressure and flow to businesses on the east end of Moosomin. The public works department will also be installing a new water main and service connections for the three blocks on Ellice Street from Mark Avenue to Park Avenue.

  • $100,000 for the airport upgrade, although those funds will come from the town’s future expenditures reserve.

Consulting costs
The town is spending a significant amount on consulting and engineering contracts in the 2019 budget:
  • The town has contracted P3A Architecture Partnership in Regina to create an Official Community Plan and new zoning bylaw at an estimated cost of $69,000.

  • The town has contracted MPE Engineering to create an asset management plan, which will be completed in early 2020, as required under the New Deal Gas Tax Grant. The cost will be about $60,000 of which 80 per cent will be funded by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

  • The town is paying Clifton Associates engineering firm $20,000 under landfill expenses for twice per year sampling of piezometers at the landfill site.

Protective Services
The town will be invoiced an estimated $207,500 for the RCMP and $15,000 for commissionaire services to enforce bylaws. The town had budgeted $25,000 for the fire department to remove smaller overhead doors and replace them with two larger overhead doors.

Recreation department
In the recreation department, many donations have been received and will complete the following projects:
  • A new hot tub and rock climbing wall at the Borderland Co-op Aquaplex.

  • Mini-golf, community court, batting cage, golf driving net, and Eventplex concession area improvements at Bradley Park.

  • An electronic message board at the Sportsplex.

Total revenue is budgeted at $7,023,786 in 2019 and expenses are budgeted at $6,999,641, for a surplus of $24,145.

The tax levy comprises the majority of the town’s income at $3.4 million. Utility revenue brings in another $1.3 million, and general revenue, including fees and grants, brings in $2.3 million.

The town will receive $561,704 in provincial revenue sharing for 2019, an increase of $15,857 from last year.

The town will also receive $161,837 in gas tax funding.

Under the Multi-Material Stewardship Western program, the town will receive a grant of $32,000 toward the town’s recycling program.

Taxpayers can get a break by paying their taxes early. There is a tax discount of five per cent for payment of current municipal taxes paid by September 30. The discount does not apply to the education portion of the property tax.