Province investigating RM of McKillop

August 22, 2018 3:16 pm

With a lot of angry ratepayers in the RM of McKillop, the province is stepping in to do some investigating.

On Wednesday, the province announced it has ordered an official inspection of the municipality.

Over the past week, taxpayers in the RM have been raising their voices over tax bills which jumped by thousands of dollars from last year.

“Lots of people have seen a $2,000 increase, and I’ve heard rumours of $4,000 to $5,000 on one bill alone,” said Brent Johnson, chair of the McKillop Taxpayer Network.

Johnson himself didn’t see a huge increase in his taxes – he recently built a new house on his lot – but he said a neighbour got a bill for $2,000 more than last year without changing anything on their land.

The mill rate increase was passed in early August, but the outcry didn’t begin until late last week when Johnson said people started getting their bills.

“That’s the problem with mill rates – people don’t really have a working knowledge of how it’s going to affect them until they see the bill, so as the bills hit the mail that’s when everybody took notice.”

Speaking before the inspection was announced, Johnson said the network was pushing for the RM council to go back and lower the mill rate.

“It’s not simple and it’s not straightforward, but I think considering the effect this is having they need to find another option.”

It’s law in Saskatchewan the municipalities have to run a balanced budget, but Johnson believes there are other options, like changing the expenses in the budget – he said there is a lot of money budgeted for legal fees – or taking out a loan to cover the cost overruns.

“It’s never good to be paying interest on an operating loan, but desperate times call for desperate measures.”

Government Relations Minister Warren Kaeding has appointed Carol Ingham to lead the inspection.

The appointment is effective immediately.

“Given the circumstances and the breadth and level of concerns raised it was important to act,” Kaeding said.

“I believe that Ms. Ingham will be able to complete an inspection and report back on the state of the RM’s affairs. Ms. Ingham brings a wealth of knowledge to her appointment having more than 25 years of municipal and public administration experience.”

The inspection will undertake a high-level look into the general operations of the RM with a focus on the status of voter petitions submitted to the council, any legal actions initiated by and/or against the RM, and seek to provide a synopsis of the RM’s financial situation and obligations.

A final report is expected to be completed by September 15, 2018, and will be submitted to the Minister of Government Relations and the local RM council.

Ingham is a former municipal administrator, and prior to her retirement from the public service in 2011, served as a Senior Municipal Advisor with the Ministry of Government Relations. She has also been active in the municipal administration field in a mentoring role.