Municipal governments—both urban and rural—are being told to curb their costs as the government prepares for a challenging budget next Wednesday.
Premier Brad Wall told the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities annual convention in Saskatoon that everything is on the table, including revenue-sharing with municipalities. A portion of the PST is given to cities, towns, villages and rural municipalities for infrastructure spending.
“I think it’s important that they are looking at their own expenses very, very carefully. Not just efficiency reviews , but we will probably need to get beyond that because we have just structurally less money now.”
The provincial government is looking at a $1.2 billion dollar deficit due to a big drop in natural resource revenue as well as lower than expected tax revenue and higher crop insurance claims.
Wall says the deficit at this level is unsustainable and the government is looking at all areas including the education portion of property taxes and provincial sales tax exemptions.
“We are going to deal with this issue. It will take a determined disciplined effort on the part of the government at all levels to deal with this challenge and we will need to do some unpopular things.”
He adds it will like take longer than one fiscal year to meet the government’s goal of a balanced budget.
“We would still like to meet it, but it might take longer than one fiscal year to balance the budget without causing shock to the economy or unduly and irrevocably harming public service in the province.”
The Saskatchewan government has already indicated that it wants public-sector wages and benefits cut by 3.5 per cent in the coming fiscal year.