Swift Current City Council told argument city spends $8 million more than Yorkton are untrue
City refutes high spending argument
City officials definitively shot down claims that the City of Swift Current spends millions more that their counterparts in Yorkton during a simple explanation during Monday's City Council meeting.
"Yorkton collects about $9.5 million more in revenue than the City of Swift Current does, and our expenses are $5.4 million less than the City of Yorkton. In other words we actually spend $5.4 million less than Yorkton to provide the same, similar or better services than a city comparable to us," Chief Financial Officer Tim Marcus highlighted during Monday's meeting.
Councillor Ron Toles asked administration to clarify a figure in a recent letter to the editor that suggested Swift Current spends $8 million more per year than Yorkton. Toles felt it was important to shed some light on the allegation for residents who are concerned about such a statement.
"I did a comparison with the City of Yorkton using the 2012 Audited Financial Statements, as they include everything," Marcus explained to City Council. "I removed our Light and Power utility from the comparison because Yorkton doesn't have one. But I left the subsidy that they contribute into operating in there for comparative purposes."
Marcus also pointed out that Swift Current collects $6.3 million less in property taxes than Yorkton, or about 55 per cent of what is collected in Yorkton.
"Essentially, the extra revenue Yorkton collects over and above their expenses, is used to fund their capital, on average, about $5 million," Marcus told council.
He noted that if Swift Current had that extra revenue through higher taxes starting 10 years ago, the City of Swift Current would have had been able to fund $50 million in capital spending through the past decade instead of having debt financing for some projects.
Mayor Jerrod Schafer added council wanted to put the public's mind at ease regarding the true spending numbers as proven through Audited Financial Statements.
"It's pretty clear what the expenditures are, and they're certainly not more than the City of Yorkton," Schafer said.
Schafer also reminded the community that Swift Current is legally unable to have unbalanced budgets.
"Municipalities are not allowed to run deficit budgets. Here in the province of Saskatchewan our provincial government hasn't been running deficits through this time. But our federal government has, they have been spending more on an annual basis than they take in in revenue. We don't have that luxury as municipalities.
"The only way that we could be spending $8 million more is if we subsequently had $8 million in revenue. So we certainly don't have deficits every year, our auditors would obviously pick up on if we had a $100,000 deficit, let alone something in the millions. So that's not the case. And obviously we don't have significantly that much more in revenue than we do, so there's no way that we could be spending more."
"We can't run a deficit. So it's interesting about any type of an assertion that we would be spending significantly more than a comparable community. The only way that that could happen is if we had a revenue stream to go with it," Schafer said, adding "I think it's important that our residents can feel at ease knowing that that isn't the case."