In the midst of the day’s excitement, Mayor Greg Dionne said that being in Regina for provincial budget day was a worthwhile experience.
“I’m really pleased I came, because of course I got to meet all the ministers … and their deputies, and I got all their cards and I made quite a few contacts,” he said by phone, shortly after the budget was released.
Budget day wasn’t the time to make requests, but Dionne feels he’s made some good ins with the provincial government -- something mayors from various other municipalities joined him in accomplishing by being in Regina for the day.
The mood in the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan was that of excitement, he said, with a fired-up atmosphere similar to an election night radiating throughout the property.
“I got the budget book, so I’ll be going to the hotel tonight and going through the budget book, and then phoning some ministers tomorrow to make sure I have the right points, and from there on I’ll know what we’re actually getting,” he said.
He did managed to pull out a few items that will affect the city, including a $600,000 boost for the province’s municipal police forces.
Although he hasn’t been provided the funding formula for this initiative yet, it will mean a greater provincial subsidy for the city’s police force.
I’m really pleased I came, because of course I got to meet all the ministers … and their deputies, and I got all their cards and I made quite a few contacts. - Mayor Greg Dionne
The city’s municipal revenue sharing grant will jump from $6.66 million to $7.47 million -- another good news item for Prince Albert, Dionne said, and is about $110,000 more than the city had expected.
The unexpected addition will help decrease the city’s proposed tax increase by about 2/5 of a percentage point, with the balance of the grant already factored into the base tax increase.
Although a good news item so far, the unsteady nature of the municipal revenue sharing program makes it difficult to predict from year to year, Dionne said, noting that it’s funded through a portion of the provincial sales tax.
“My concern with that is that it’s not stable funding,” he said. “The only reason we got that (increase) is because a lot of people bought last year, but if we get going … and people don’t make purchases, we’re not guaranteed the same amount next year and it might be less.
“It’s not a stable form of funding -- so far it’s going up every year, but I was shocked that it went up 11 per cent.”
Overall pleased with what he saw and experienced in Regina on Wednesday, Dionne will continue to study his budget documents to determine what other impacts may be in store for Prince Albert.