RM of Meadow Lake ratepayers could experience a sense of financial relief in the coming year.
According to RM chief administrative officer Richard Levesque, RM council passed its 2023 budget May 8 and the outlook appears promising for taxpayers.

“There will be no tax increase and the agricultural properties will get a five per cent reduction in taxes,” Levesque noted. “The $500 base tax will be kept the same to accommodate the RM share of the proposed field house (at the future Meadow Lake Recreation and Civic Centre project – see last week’s edition of Northern Pride for more information) and recreation, as well as to cover the police and fire agreements.”

Levesque went on to reinforce the fact no RM funds will be used toward the construction of the City of Meadow Lake’s new recreation facility or adjoining office area, and the base tax will only be used to help fund the field house component of the project.

Meanwhile, Levesque also commented on the RM council’s decision from last year to contract out all public works-related activity.

“Contracting out the public works department has resulted in significant savings which have allowed the RM more flexibility to allow for more road, culvert and bridge work to be done this summer,” he said. “The two major culverts that were washed out last year (one on Rialto Road and another further north on Range Road 610) will also be addressed this year.”

Levesque also said the RM has applied for a grant to commission a study that would provide for a master plan for the area to help address future wildfire and flooding issues.

Levesque, a former Meadow Lake city councillor and long-time town administrator, was brought on as RM CAO earlier this year with the plan to stay on the job for at least six months in an interim capacity until a full-time CAO can be hired. He replaced former CAO Joel Cardinal who was released from the position by RM council late last year.

“I have finalized the budget as promised, dealt with the upcoming election for reeve and will continue to search for a new administrator,” he said.

The election Levesque mentioned is a by-election to fill the position of RM reeve. Dale Sheppard, who currently fills the role of acting reeve, is being challenged by fellow candidate and former reeve Roger Zuhchotzki. The election will take place May 31. Whoever is successful will officially take on the role vacated by former reeve Harvey Harriott back in December.

by Phil Ambroziak