Another City budget has been pored over and agreed upon for another year by Council. Among the standouts is a couple of rate increases, and room for projects in 2018.
"I think the budget process went farely smooth this year. There's not a lot of increases to anything. A pretty minimal increase, at one percent, for property tax. A proposed borrowing of about $1.5 million, so we're still paying down about $2.5 million of debt this year, which is good as we move forward," stated City Manager Jeff Ward.
Major projects in the coming months will be more rehabilitation on King Street, and the installation of an intake in Rafferty Dam for the Water Treatment Plant.
"These are all things that aren't surprising to anyone, and hopefully moving forward, everything is smooth sailing through 2018."
Ward added that further increases in property tax each year will be decided by council on a year by year basis, with a variety of factors coming into play, including provincial government decisions.
Another hike includes an increase in utility rates. However, the City hopes that this will result in savings for homeowners in the long haul.
"In the last 10 years, what's been done for water main replacement has been a local improvement process. 50 percent of the cost for the project would be allocated based on a frontage of each property. This can be some significant costs to homeowners, specifically new ones. It can be between $6-15,000 that we've seen, that has to be paid over 10 years."
"Council realizes that most cities and most communities are moving away from this process, and that if we increased our infrastructure fee from $20 every two months, to $30 every two months for each utility bill, we could move forward with the areas with significant water breaks and water main replacement issues, and we can move ahead without the local improvement process," Ward explained.
Some other changes on their way to the Energy City include a new location for the center of Estevan Tourism.
"We haven't finalized anything as of yet, but the initial plan would be to put up that building (the current location) for sale, and the proceeds from that would go to do the whole renovations at the Leisure Center, in that pool concession area. That would now become a central hub for Tourism and Marketing, mainly because it will get more foot traffic. Our tourist information visitor numbers have been steadily decreasing, and that's a trend across the province, so we're looking at more innovative ways to get information to people, and get more foot traffic through our tourism area," said Ward.