This is my inaugural newsletter article as the Mayor of Esterhazy. The first thing I want to do is thank everyone who voted for me in the recent municipal election. Certainly, change was in the air and I am humbled that I was selected to be your Mayor. We have seen a lot of change on our council as we lost two very solid Councillors, namely Ray Vinish and Linda Chomos. I can tell you, from having served with these two individuals for a number of years, that they served with honour and integrity and always with an eye towards doing the best they could for the Town of Esterhazy. I am pleased that we saw Lorne Schentag and Martin Pfeifer returned to Council. We also have four new Councillors that have joined our ranks and I welcome them and wish them well in their future responsibilities. I am also pleased that Council has retained its gender diversity as I truly believe this is important. The orientation meeting took place on November 9th and my first message to the new Councillors was to approach their new responsibilities with an open mind and open heart. Just as when I became a new Councillor I found that the learning curve was fairly steep, so will the new Councillors find this out as well. People may have a perception of how things are but until you actually assume the responsibilities and get an appreciation for the magnitude of the position it is easy to underestimate the responsibilities for which you have signed up. Over time we had built a strong team and we will be faced with doing the same going forward. The onus falls to the new Councillors to learn, co-operate and collaborate to form a strong and well-functioning unit. I am optimistic about the future of not only Council but also of Esterhazy. We have some good people that have been elected to Council and, over time, I am confident that they will grow into a strong working group that will make decisions in the best interests of the people of Esterhazy. It goes without saying that Esterhazy has a lot going for it that other communities of our size and smaller could only wish to have.
Another message that I put forward was that I very much want Council to be collaborative and supportive rather than invasive and intrusive. I want to reinstate a sense of calm in Council and that we go forward in the spirit of ensuring that every citizen can engage in peaceful enjoyment of our beautiful community. We, the elected officials of Esterhazy, are here to oversee the financial affairs of our urban municipality and to make decisions that will benefit our citizens while at the same time keeping our community on the straight and narrow in terms of fiscal accountability.
On November 4th I had the opportunity to bring greetings to the Hall of Fame event at the Boreen Centre. My thanks go out to Alton Baldwin for coming up with the idea of a hall of fame for athletes that have excelled in the sport of hockey. It was a wonderful night and a great weekend. On November 11th I had the honour of laying a wreath during the Royal Canadian Legion Remembrance Day ceremonies on behalf of the Town of Esterhazy. Remembrance Day holds a special place in my heart as my Mom, her brother, and a number of other family members served during World War II.
In closing, I want to again thank you for the confidence you have shown in me by giving me the privilege to act as your Mayor. I can promise you that I will serve you with the utmost loyalty, integrity and desire to see Esterhazy prosper as we go forward.
Mayor of Esterhazy
Mayor’s Message – June 2017
Now that we have completed our 2017 budget I wanted to provide you with some of the details and give you an understanding of what your Council had to deal with while compiling it. Let me state that your Town Council members have a great desire to reduce taxes and make Esterhazy a more attractive destination for full-time residents and retirees to call home. This was evident throughout our budget deliberations.
This year, as you all know, was a year of cutbacks at the provincial government level. Most of the cutbacks appear to have been directed at the cities and towns in Saskatchewan. Some of the more significant impacts for Esterhazy were as a result of a reduction in provincial revenue sharing amounting to $ 28,677.04 and the cancellation of grants in lieu for Sask Energy in the amount of $ 61,590.85. These two reductions in funding meant that your Town Council had $ 90,267.89 less money to work with when trying to come up with a balanced budget. However, in keeping with the theme of wanting to reduce taxes, your Council agreed to a global reduction of $ 55,257.04 in municipal property tax levies for 2017. Adding these three numbers together gave us a $ 145,524.93 hole in the revenue side of the budget.
Now, as you may be aware, your Town Council has no control over the assessed values of properties or of the school tax levies as both of these are completely within the provincial government’s purview. This year we saw the provincial government significantly increase the school tax levies in Esterhazy by $ 131,116.97. So, while your Council did its best to keep taxes from increasing they had a lot of factors working against them. Council made no changes to the base tax levies on residential or commercial properties and adjusted the mill rates downward on residential properties from 9.0 to 6.5 and commercial properties from 20.07 to 11.05. This was done in an effort to mitigate the tax increases that would have come about due to the increased assessments.
Your Council members did the best they could to keep taxes as low as possible in these difficult times. Please feel free to contact our CAO or the office staff if you would like a more detailed explanation of the way in which property taxes are calculated and levied.
Watch for my next newsletter as I will be focusing on the plans we have for a future water treatment plant and also the ongoing maintenance that we are undertaking on our sewer infrastructure.
Mayor of Esterhazy