The City of Estevan came through 2017 not without its share of challenges.
"The year 2017 was very interesting for operation for the City of Estevan municipal," explained City Manager, Jeff Ward, "mainly due to the budget impacts that were handed down to us early this year. The province changed a lot of their models in regards to the grants in lieu. We were affected the third hardest in the province. we lost approximately $650,000. If there wasn't a cap of 30% of our operating grant, we would have lost $900,000."
"Even going into next year, we're still not 100% sure if that 30% cap is going to be there or not, so that's a concern."
"Also, at the same time, we went through a very significant reassessment. I know everyone in town has felt that. We've been lobbying the government to change the assessment cycle from a four year cycle to a two year cycle. In commodity based towns such as us with a boom and bust cycle, it really makes no sense that there is a two year lag on a four year cycle."
He added that some commercial properties went up by 100-200% while some saw a decrease.
It wasn't all bad news, however. The City had the opportunity to purchase the old Murray GM building and use it for the new Fire Hall.
"I think most of the public has been very supportive of that especially now that you see it done. You see that all our equipment is in one place and the firefighters have an awesome facility to work out of now."
Another major project this past summer was the resurfacing of King Street.
"It was noted when this council was elected that King Street was one of the main arterioles left that was pretty rough. They did start a three to four year plan to complete King Street so we completed a very significant portion this year form 13th all the way to Pine. There was some concerns with the lines and the grading. Unfortunately, we couldn't widen to the south due to the large amount of utilities factors on the south side but I think as people get used to it and our crews are very conscious that when snow comes, we clear those lines and make sure the tracks are right, but having the four lanes through east and west is very beneficial."
Another major project was the waste water treatment upgrades.
"This is a project that is been in the works for over a decade. This is something that has been planned for awhile, is the residuals management so that the soot and the other byproducts that were being released into the water are now being captured in the settling ponds. As we move forward, the second phase of this will be the second intact from Rafferty Dam. this is crucial especially when we see what happened in Prince Albert and North Battleford in regards to their water sourse being compromised. Having two separate, distinct water sources is going to be very beneficial to the city moving forward."
Most recently, the City's decision to close and then reopen the Civic Auditorium made headlines around the area.
"Council is wanting to keep this building open, we just need to make sure we're insured and that liability coverage is on that building. We're looking at all options. There will be an RFP coming out in regards to a more in depth structural analysis and releasing some of the tension on the bracing rods. Hopefully we get approval from insurance very quickly and then we can move forward."