Earlier this spring, the province informed rural municipalities it would be changing the way they can tax companies and residents in 2023.
R.M.s had been allowed to tax at a ratio of nine to one, but the government has changed that ratio to seven to one.
"What that gets at is you have the commercial businesses paying a higher percentage of the taxes in the room compared to residential and Ag, so they're trying to get out in line to be more fair for everybody," said Reeve for the R.M. of Weyburn, Norm McFadden. "The good news is for the R.M. of Weyburn, it's not really going to affect us, because this is something we've taken on over the last few years and we're probably below that nine-to-one ratio already. So we shouldn't really see the effects of that here at all."
McFadden said that as a Council over the last few years, this has been the goal. "We want to make the taxes in this R.M., regardless of whether it's Ag, commercial, or residential, to be fair for everybody, so everybody pays their fair share. So we're getting there."
"It's good to see that the province recognizes that there are some areas where the commercial is getting hammered hard. And we want to attract more business, right? Business creates jobs. Jobs create population. So that's the goal of the government anyway, to decrease this tax ratio down to nine to one is to hopefully retain and attract more businesses."
He said between the reassessment last year and the conscious effort they've made as Council, quite a few of the commercial properties within the R.M. of Weyburn have seen their taxes go down.
"And on the flip side, the Ag side has gone up a bit," he noted. "And I guess nobody wants to pay more taxes, right? I mean, I'm a farmer. So basically. I've increased my taxes over the last few years, but I have a quarter section of land that my taxes have probably gone up $250 over the last couple of years total, whereas the previous 10 or 15 years my taxes on that same quarter went up hardly at all. And to me, that's not fair. Like, I'd take that as I'm not paying my fair share towards the R.M. compared to what commercial and even acreage owners are paying."
"We've made a conscious effort to make it fair for all three sectors, those commercial, residential, and Ag. So for me, that needs to be fair for everybody."
The changes will only likely affect a handful of the R.M.s in the province still sitting at a tax ratio of 20 to one.
"I heard some numbers coming out at SARM that they're going to take a $1.2 million hit for revenue tax revenue on the commercial side. Now they're going to have to make that up on the residential and Ag side, so that's going to be a pretty big hit for some of those producers and residential property owners. And I guess that's the other part too. People are asking the government to phase this in over a number of years so the hit isn't so hard. But I don't think that's going to work because we're still we're only talking about a handful of R.M.s."
"And it comes down to you didn't have the best interest of the commercial side, over the past year, that's my opinion anyway."
"Nobody likes paying taxes, nobody wants to pay more, but it comes down to being fair, and I'd say in the R.M. of Weyburn we've made that effort to be fair, and that's the thing I hope people realize is
"You can't keep going back to the well all the time and hitting commercial for more taxes," he added. "Like sooner or later the well goes dry, and if you spread it out over all of your ratepayers evenly it's a little more palatable to take for everybody."