Saskatchewan premier announces more cash coming for cities, towns

REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says his government plans to table a budget next month that will include $10 million more for towns and cities.

That will bring revenue sharing with municipalities to $251 million in fiscal 2019-20.

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The government attributes the increase to a recalculation of its revenue-sharing formula, which was reviewed last year.

The formula has been reduced to three-quarters of a point of the six per cent provincial sales tax. But more items such as children's clothing and restaurant meals are no longer exempt so the tax base is broader.

Moe says the adjusted formula recognizes the current fiscal reality while remaining predictable, sustainable and transparent.

Moe announced the change in a speech to the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association's annual meeting on Monday.

The convention runs until Wednesday and is to feature a question-and-answer session with municipal leaders and provincial cabinet members.

Moe also said his Saskatchewan Party government plans to table a balanced budget on March 20 as per a promise in the last election to do so in three years.

The premier said tough choices still had to be made to ensure there will be enough money to provide services and programs residents rely on.

"Make no mistake. This will be another tight budget," he said.

Opposition NDP Leader Ryan Meili was positive about the revenue-sharing plan.

"The fact that ... there will be some growth in the years to come and that it's tied to PST, I would say given the state of the economy and the budget that we're looking at, it's a good step forward.," Meili said.

He did point out that even with the $10 million increase, the funding for municipalities is still below 2013 levels.

— With files from CKRM, CJWW

© The Outlook

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