RM of Edenwold reduces mill rate 15 per cent due to Covid-19
May 26, 2020, 10:19 am
Evan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Ratepayers in the Rural Municipality of Edenwold east of Regina are seeing a 15-per-cent reduction of their property taxes.
The cut comes after the RM’s council voted to approve the move at its April 28 meeting: It’s reducing this year’s mill rate by 15 per cent, aiming to ease economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, which killed oil prices in March and slowed Saskatchewan's economy to a snail's pace.
The RM sits directly east of Regina; it includes rural farming properties and the communities of Emerald Park and Edenwold, among others. The rate drop applies to residential, industrial, commercial and agricultural properties.
Allen Kilback says he’s impressed by the decision. He owns Vatic Cannabis Co., a 20-minute drive northeast of Regina.
“It helps us survive. It helps us to continue to pay our staff, it helps us to continue paying our power bill and all the essential things we need to operate,” he said.
The RM is paying for the rate cut by using $800,000 of its accumulated surplus pool, according to chief administrative officer Kim McIvor.
“It's the money council puts away every year when it runs a surplus in the budgeting process,” he said.
The money is for situations like the current pandemic. “You want to give back to your ratepayers to show that ‘yes we have good fiscal, financial management and yes we can help out each of you when there are these situations going on,’” McIvor said.
As a cannabis retailer, Vatic was classified as an essential service by the provincial government, staying open during the pandemic.
But Kilback said the shop still saw a drop in sales, even after offering discounts on its various cannabis strains.
Kilback is also a landlord for 19 businesses that operate out of the property he owns in the same area as the pot shop; among those businesses are a landscaper, a utility fencing company, a cabinet maker and trucking companies that haul fuel and food.
Those tenants pay the property taxes to the RM, he said. “That (property tax) saving is going to go right to (the tenants).”
The RM of Edenwold’s five councillors and its reeve voted unanimously to approve the rate cut. They had previously set the 2020 mill rate at 4.4 per cent, the same rate as in 2019. After applying the 15 per cent discount, the 2020 mill rate will be 3.74 per cent.
A residential property assessed at a $400,000 value will see a 2020 property tax saving of $239.58, owing $3,005.62 in taxes, compared with $3,245.20 for 2019. A commercial property assessed at $3.1 million will save $1,856.74 in property taxes.
“It's certainly a relief to have somebody actually consider you to help reduce costs … It would be nice if other towns and RMs followed as well,” Kilback said.
Moose Jaw is following a similar plan for 2020, opting for no mill rate increases for the year, because of the pandemic. It’s the first time in more than two decades the city has used such a measure.
McIvor estimated there are close to 5,000 people living in the RM of Edenwold.