Mayors met with provincial cabinet ministers at the legislature Wednesday to discuss the grants in lieu changes, announced in last weeks budget.
The Sask. Party government eliminated the program that sees SaskPower and SaskEnergy pay grants to reimburse municipalities for property taxes.
Yorkton Mayor Bob Maloney said Wednesday’s meeting left him with a sense of optimism.
“I think the government really extended an olive branch today and for the dialogue yet to come, and that’s certainly good news for us,” Maloney said.
The optimism seemed to be shared by Minster of Government Relations Donna Harpauer.
“There were times where we literally would agree to disagree,” she said. “But following it up with ok, well how do we get around that and get to a place that works for both of us.”
One of the major problems that are still unclear is whether the change to grants in lieu is a short or long term adjustment.
“If it’s a one-year problem versus a permanent removal of funding it’s two different things,” said Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark.
Without grants in lieu, Saskatoon is facing an annual shortfall of $11.4 million.
Regina Mayor Michael Fougere wants the changes to be spread fairly between rural and urban areas.
“We’re going to try and find ways to make changes in the future more equitable and fair and more transparent to all sectors.”
Both sides told reporters after the closed-door meeting that there is confusion over the issue and there will be more discussions, although no date is set for those talks.
—With files from 980 CJME’s Britton Gray.