For Immediate Release
SARM Applauds Provincial Government’s Commitment to Revenue Sharing
In the lead-up to the 2017-18 Provincial Budget, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) anticipated that tough decisions would have to be made given the current economic climate. As expected, the budget includes some funding reductions that will affect rural municipalities (RM) and producers. However, SARM is very pleased to learn that the municipal revenue sharing formula is being maintained.
While the overall pool of funding is down due to a decrease in PST revenue, the Government of Saskatchewan has kept its commitment to municipalities and retained the formula. More than $257 million will be distributed amongst municipalities; RMs will receive 28.54 per cent of the funding. “Despite a significant decline in revenue, the Government of Saskatchewan has kept its promise to dedicate 1 point of the PST to municipal revenue sharing,” said SARM President Ray Orb. “We applaud the government for staying true to its commitment to municipalities.”
SARM also welcomes the announcement locally elected school boards are being retained and that there will be no major changes to school divisions boundaries, both of which SARM advocated for during the recent K-12 review.
Funding for the Provincial Rat Eradication Program and the Beaver Control Program, administered by SARM, remains consistent. The programs are receiving $1.4 million and $500,000 respectively. SARM appreciates that the Government of Saskatchewan continues to recognize the importance of agriculture and has allocated $388.6 million to Agriculture, including $125,000 for the Agricultural Health and Safety Network.
The budget also allocates $134.2 million for municipal infrastructure, with $60.8 million dedicated to the New Building Canada Fund, which is up $36.4 million from last budget. The Municipal Roads for the Economy program, which provides funding assistance to RMs to assist with the costs of maintaining roads and infrastructure impacted by heavy traffic use by industry, will receive $14 million. While this is a $2 million reduction in funding, SARM is encouraged that the Government of Saskatchewan still recognizes that value of rural infrastructure. The budget is also allocating $86 million to repair and upgrade 150 kilometres of rural highways.
SARM is disappointed to see the fuel tax exemption for bulk gasoline purchases be eliminated and the fuel tax exemption for diesel bulk purchases be decreased to 80 per cent. Since 1987, these tax exemptions have provided much needed tax relief to producers, who face steep costs to acquire and maintain the farm equipment necessary to feed the world. At the same time, SARM is saddened by the discontinuation of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company which will disproportionally affect rural residents.
“While we’re disappointed to see cuts to some important programming, we understand the immediacy of getting the budget under control during this economic downturn”, concluded President Orb.
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