The Association of Saskatchewan Realtors (ASR) said they are happy with the 2015 spring budget in general but there are two key areas they would have liked to have seen turn out differently.
The first area is in regards to the Municipal Revenue Sharing program, which the ASR recommended go through a revision.
“Certainly we were pleased with the way the budget was balanced but also we recommended that there be a bit of a revision to the revenue sharing program and that it be distributed over a wider range of revenues, not just the PST, because the PST is a tax that the revenues tend to continue to rise constantly,” said Bill Madder, chief executive officer of the ASR.
“PST revenues rarely go down, whereas in some cases other revenue sources like income tax and resource royalties tend to fluctuate a little bit. So we recommended a basket of revenues as opposed to just strictly the PST for revenue sharing with municipalities.”
According to an ASR post-budget press release, this revision would benefit municipalities by giving them total access to the broad provincial tax base and do so for the province by making a “direct-drive” relationship between government revenues and size of the revenue sharing pool.
The second key area they would like to see changed has to do with educational property tax.
“Our recommendation is that if they were to fund education totally through general revenues and then redirect our education property tax toward capital spending, things like infrastructure and that sort of thing that have a little bit more of a direct linkage to property, to the value of property and to the use of the property, then it would make more sense.”
Madder said that he realizes “the money doesn’t come from nowhere” but if the EPT were put into other types of expenditures related more to property, the ASR could better support the idea.
Then again, he said, the association always hopes that the tax never be increased because it’s a concern of all property owners that their taxes continue to rise.
“However,” said Madder, “if it were directed toward specific expenditures like infrastructure, our roads and services and that sort of thing, we would be more pleased with the way it would go.”
Municipal Revenue Sharing and EPT aside, the Madder said the ASR is happy that the Saskatchewan Party was able to not only balance the budget this year but even show a small surplus.