After being celebrated last week following his election and swearing in as Premier, Scott Moe delivered a speech to the SUMA convention Monday that was not met with the same applause.
Many expected the speech to set the tone for his term in office and the tone was one of money management and planning. Moe told SUMA delegates, including Swift Current councillor Bruce Deg, that more belt-tightening will be needed and communities will need to find ways to save money.
"We will be releasing the provincial budget on April 10th of this spring. This is about two weeks later than normal, but I think it's reasonable given the circumstances of the change in leadership," explained Moe. "This will be another tight budget. The economy is improving, but we need to control our spending if we are going to balance the books in the next two years in our province and that is the objective."
Last year, provincial budget decisions cost communities millions of dollars. In his address yesterday, Moe hoped that cities could find other ways to help bear the burden.
"The more debt that we pile on, the more interest we have to pay and the less money we have to devote to those very important priorities for all of us. There can be no delay, now is the time to act and it is my hope that all levels of government and all organizations that depend on public funding, will look hard to find savings internally before they go and ask the taxpayers for more money."
Many communities were forced to raise their mill rate in 2017 because the cuts in the provincial budget came after many had already completed their budgets for the year. There was no mention of clawbacks, changes or alterations to the number of funds that the province typically transferred, only the phrase "everything is on the table" as the government eluded to a shortfall in cash.
Moe also eluded to the fact he wants to re-write the revenue sharing formula that sees one percent of the PST given back to municipalities. He said the formula is no longer sustainable, something that was met with silence and then a smattering of awkward applause from those in attendance.
Mayor Denis Perrault will be attending the SUMA convention tomorrow.