PA politicians praise provincial budget
The provincial government released its 2012 budget and Prince Albert’s mayor Jim Scarrow said it will positively affect the city.
Several parts of the budget relate to Prince Albert directly, he said, including an increase in funding through the provincial sales tax, a commitment to various infrastructure projects, several social programs and a new gym for Carlton Comprehensive High School.
Scarrow said one of the most significant items was the increase in the amount given to municipalities by the province through the provincial sales tax. A stronger economy in 2011 meant a stronger return for municipalities.
In 2012, the city will receive $6,662,000, an increase of about 4.3 per cent over the previous year.
“There’s only one tax payer and so this is offsetting the costs to the taxpayer and we were able to not increase taxes appreciably—it would have been higher without this grant,” he said.
No infrastructure money for municipalities
Scarrow said the budget didn’t include any help to municipalities to deal specifically with a crumbling infrastructure.
However, he said he was satisfied that the province knew of the problem and was working on the details of creating a separate fund in future budgets.
“We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg (in growth) and we are going to need additional infrastructure,” Scarrow said. “These expansions come with a price and we feel that, as a driver in the economy, these are something they need to address.”
Scarrow said on the whole there were some good programs that would specifically benefit Prince Albert.
They include $600,000 to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome prevention services (shared between Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert), $450,000 for the Prince Albert Community Mobilization Program, and money to help promote the creation of rental properties in the city.
MLA’s highlight budget areas
MLA and ministry of municipal affairs Darryl Hickie particularly touted the province’s commitment to fund the expansion of the gymnasium at Carlton.
Hickie said that now the province was committed with a funding formula, it was up to the education board to work out the details and put together a tender package.
“It builds capacity for more kids to take part in active sporting programs and leads to better health,” he said. “It’s one thing that Carlton asked for in the budget, and one thing I’m very proud of.”
Rookie MLA Victoria Jurgens said she liked the provincial government’s decision to spend money on helping people including $172.4 million in spending for education and training for aboriginal residents and $308.8 million for people with disabilities.
“We’re continuing to support and sustain programs that Saskatchewan people value, while maintaining a strong business climate so entrepreneurs and corporations can provide the jobs that provide the income, so that we can raise our children and contribute to our communities,” she said.