Six per cent levy could be added this year and will generate $2.5 million more in tax revenue in five years
Council proposing to move forward with Capital Project Levy
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City council gave unanimous approval to the new financial strategy implementation.
Councillor Pat Friesen voiced her support for the proposal as a deliberate and long term approach to dealing with future city capital requirements.
"Since we talked about this strategy in December, I have received a number of comments from citizens who totally understand what we're trying to achieve, why we developed this strategy, and the importance of doing it now," Friesen said.
She added that Council heard at the SUMA Convention that there may not be a great deal of infrastructure funding available from other levels of government, so council has to make the best use of the resources available in the community.
Councillor Gord Budd gave his full support to the idea, and expressed his regret to not having taken this sort of step sooner.
"Having been on council now for a little over 10 years, I guess my only regret with this resolution coming forward is that we didn't do this 10 years ago. In fact I wish previous people on Council had done it many many years ago. I think it's the right thing to do, I think it's the right thing to do for our future generations."
Budd admitted Council does not want to burden future generations with the things being done doing now by not addressing the debt.
"I know the city has a lot of debt. Had we implemented this strategy a number of years ago, I think we would be, probably, almost virtually debt free and still have the same amenities."
While City of Swift Current residents pay the lowest city taxes in Saskatchewan, essentially paying half of what is paid in Regina and Saskatoon, the city still needs to have a better financial strategy instead of relying on debt.
"Swift Current has an advantage. We call our Light and Power the advantage for Swift Current, but I think we should be using that advantage to put us up and above other communities in the province. It should be used for things like capital expenditures."
Councillor Ron Toles said the new financial strategy is a forward thinking idea and wants to avoid focussing on the past.
"I think this strategy is about the future," Toles said. "I think we can look at it five years from now, six years from now, 10 years from now and we won't be sitting here saying 'I wish we had done this 10 years ago.' Now is the time."
"I think we need to move forward with a plan that looks at reducing our reliance on debt. Allowing us to pay for capital things without adding to our debt."
"It's time to make a stand. It's time to do something. It's time to move forward. And I think the time is now."