The City of Moose Jaw’s second quarter financial report shows that residents are feeling the financial pinch with the rising cost of living.
The report, which was presented to Moose Jaw City Council on Monday night, shows that tax arrears are at $2.5 million as of June 30th. Last year during this time, tax arrears were at $2.1 million.
The next comparable year was June of 2021 at $2.6 million at a time when people were struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of that was through the pandemic and coming out of the pandemic and the impact it was having on people, it’s really concerning to see that people are continuing to struggle,” said Coun. Crystal Froese.
“Now, it’s just something that we need to be aware of here in our city that everyone’s feeling the pinch and we see that when we see those numbers creeping back up again.”
Director of financial services Brian Acker said there are a couple of factors as to why there is an increase in tax arrears.
“(There is) probably a number of things driving that. One is just the economic circumstances we’re in in terms of keeping people being able to afford to pay their taxes with inflation and all of the other cost pressures they’re seeing,” Acker said.
“The other one is, during the implementation of our new tax system, we did not do as much tax enforcement as we normally would. We directed our resources to the new system.”
Of the $2.5 million in arrears, $1.7 million are property tax liens and $841,000 are arrears payment plans.
The city has also seen a significant cost for its aging fleet of equipment.
The fleet is about $591,000 over budget. The city had a significant deficit in 2022 and it was due in part to a loss of $1.2 million for fleet equipment.
“For the last number of years, we haven’t probably done the amount of fleet replacement that we should have and we’re now seeing that in significantly increased costs,” Acker said.
However, overall, the city is sitting in a fairly good position financially after the second quarter.
Total revenues as of June 30 are $5.9 million or about 10 per cent of the budgeted revenues. That is without taxation and grants in lieu revenue that are expected later in the year.
“Overall, we see revenues tracking very close to budget and we don’t have a lot of concerns in terms of revenue at this point,” commented Acker.
Tax notices were delayed as the city transitioned to a new tax system. The deadline to pay property taxes is today.
Other levies are ahead of budget at 60 per cent due to timing as rural fire call revenues were billed in the first and second quarters.
Licenses and permits were also ahead at 60 per cent as business licenses were billed earlier in the year.
User charges and fee are at 59 per cent of what was budgeted. This was mainly due to increased revenues at the Yara Centre, Pla-Mor Palace and the Kinsmen Sportsplex pool.
Grants and subsidies sit at $109,000 of a $11.4 million budget. The city only received its revenue sharing of approximately $6 million in the past couple days during the third quarter.
Penalties and fines were also down as speed enforcement revenue has been slow coming in from the provincial government and the city still needs to enforce past parking meter penalties.
Expenditures are right on target at 50 per cent of the budget or $29.2 million.
Protective services are 55 per cent of the budget which is mainly from the Moose Jaw Police Service.
Recreation and community services are at 58 per cent as most third-party funding has been distributed.
Over at the Moose Jaw Events Centre, the facility is running a $60,000 deficit compared to the $300,000 deficit that was budgeted.
Helping the bottom line was food and beverage services. Total sales during the second quarter were $688,000. After costs, the food and beverage services turned a profit of $173,000.
In response to Canada's Online News Act and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) removing access to local news from their platforms, Discover Moose Jaw encourages you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the Discover Moose Jaw app HERE.