This week's RM of Portage la Prairie council meeting highlighted its Financial Plan for 2022 and it includes an extremely minimal increase in the mill rate and a healthy decrease in debt.

CAO Nettie Neudorf explains how they relate to the province with the plan.

"The financial plan is a legislative requirement that we have to go through," says Neudorf. "Municipalities are required to hold a public hearing regarding the budget and it sets it out in the same format that has to be submitted to the province. That document is called the Financial Plan, and it has to go through a public hearing. So, the RM of Portage announced their budget earlier in the year, and then we formatted it into the report that's required to be submitted to the province."

She notes they announced the same information earlier this year.

"The RM of Portage is raising the taxes by 0.1 per cent increase to generate a mill rate of 0.1 mills higher than last year," continues Neudorf. "So, this year, the mill rate will be 8.19 mills versus the 8.18 mills from last year."

Neudorf is excited to note that the outstanding debt decreases slightly from $4 million to $3.4 million. 

"We remain definitely below the debt capacity within which the province requires municipalities," says Neudorf. "We've always been less than that, and we definitely are looking forward to seeing the debt coming right off over time. Most of that debt is generated from those who've signed up for water connections and are paying it off in time. So, it's because of the signing-up of water that a lot of that debt is there."

She adds the RM remained active in its work with many projects taking place including additional work in the Poplar Bluff Industrial Park. 

"The regional reservoir is the largest capital project this year and it involves working with the city and North Norfolk Municipality," says Neudorf. "It will benefit, not only our area here, but also communities beyond our region. So, we're excited to see this project take place. The province is contributing $8 million toward the project. It's an estimated total of just over $16 million. And it's going to be out for tender soon, and that will definitely be a huge boom to our area in terms of servicing and just providing a more assured water supply to our area and beyond."

Neudorf adds there is a timeline set for the work to move ahead for the reservoir, but work will begin this year and will be completed next year. 

"We continue to state that our mission has now been formulated into a statement for our municipality, and is the first one that has come through for our municipality in a formal way," notes Neudorf. "Our budget matches that. And that is to provide exceptional municipal services to our residents while pursuing and attracting investments that enhance our agriculture and support our industry. Our budget is in line with our mission and we're excited with what happens this year. In any given month, we're spending funding on a lot of other projects on the go for which we hopefully can make some announcements later in the year that are economic-focused."