The City of Swift Current will continue the partnership with the Swift Current 57’s baseball club for the lease of Mitchell Field.
Councillors approved a new three-year agreement with the club during a regular council meeting, Jan. 11.
Councillor Ryan Switzer said he is very happy with the City’s decision to enter into a new agreement.
“The league that the Swift Current 57’s play in, the Western Canada Baseball League, is an increasingly growing and evolving league, and with that the financial obligations of its member teams are becoming steeper, and over the past few years we’ve seen a couple of Saskatchewan based teams no longer being able to compete in the league,” he mentioned. “So it’s excellent that the City of Swift Current is a good partner with our 57’s and it’s a great partnership. They look after the field and they put hundreds if not thousands of hours every summer into maintaining it.”
The Swift Current 57’s did not play any games during 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the cancellation of the season. Council members expressed hope that the team will be able to have a season this year.
Mayor Al Bridal said the baseball team demonstrated their commitment to the partnership early during the pandemic, when the 57’s agreed to make the clubhouse at Mitchell Field available as a potential location for the isolation of people who thought they might be infected with the COVID-19 virus.
“I don’t think we ever had to use the room, but just in case we needed it, it was there, and they were willing as a partner to help us, the citizens of Swift Current and the City of Swift Current,” he said. “So it is a true partnership, and like all true partnerships they go both ways, not just one way. So that’s good to see.”
City General Manager of Community Services Jim Jones told the meeting the City partners with many non-profit organizations in the community to enhance and provide sport, culture and recreation opportunities for all levels of competition.
“Baseball is an important summer sport in our community,” he said. “A strong partnership between the City and the 57’s will continue to enhance and encourage a strong, enthusiastic volunteer base. The volunteer base is essential to ensure the success of the 57’s in the Western Canadian Baseball League and in the city of Swift Current.”
The new agreement provides details about the partnership, including terms, fee structures and facility operations at Mitchell Field.
A new section of the agreement includes details about the operational partnership for the 57’s clubhouse. The City entered into a partnership with the club in November 2018 to provide and develop a proper clubhouse, and these arrangements were not address in the previous agreement.
The new agreement specifies that the 57’s will be responsible for paying 50 per cent of the utility accounts at the clubhouse building. The club will be responsible for general maintenance of the ball park during the baseball season, and it will pay $256 per game when the lights are used.
<strong>Council approves cemetery rates for 2021-2023:</strong>
There will be an increase in some cemetery rate fees over the next two years. Council approved the new cemetery rates for the period Feb. 1, 2021 to Jan. 31, 2023 during the Jan. 11 regular council meeting.
“In relation to other urban municipal cemeteries in Saskatchewan and their rate structure, the City of Swift Current’s rates are average or slightly below average in most specific areas,” City General Manager of Community Services Jim Jones said.
There will be no increase for interments or disinterments for 2021, and the fees for lots and columbaria niches will also not increase for this year.
However, there will be a four per cent increase for interments, disinterments, lots and niches effective Feb. 1, 2022. The monument installation permit for companies to access City cemeteries will increase at this time by $5 to $95.
Council also approved City administration’s recommendation to implement an administration fee of $95 with effect from Feb. 1, 2022. Jones said this fee will be used to recover staff time for transfer of interment rights and urn-casket interments.
“This is similar to other municipal cemeteries in Saskatchewan and would assist with the cost of transferring burial rights, assisting with the purchase of cemetery software and ensuring the safety of cemetery records,” he explained.
The City’s recovery rate for the provision of cemetery services was lower than planned in 2020. The City budgeted to recover an amount of $191,311. The actual recovery rate at the end of the year was $121,688.88 or 83 per cent of the budgeted amount.
City Park Manager Michael Newell told the meeting the lower recovery rate was related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The public health restrictions meant only a certain number of people were allowed at gravesite services and cremation has become a more population option. If the situation changes in 2021, there might be an increase in cremation internments at City cemeteries.
The City’s goal is to achieve a 100 per cent recovery rate for cemetery services, but it is difficult during the budgeting process to set a figure for how many grave sales and interments there will be during a year.
“We had been basically overall rising in general, and we have to balance that want and desire to have a 100 per cent recovery rate with what’s affordable for our community,” he said. “When you compare us with similar municipalities across the province, we definitely don’t want Swift Current to become the top in charges, and in some of these areas, especially with our services, our opening and closing fees, we were going over what the provincial average is and we want to make sure that’s tempered, because we don’t want people feeling like they cannot access that service within the city.”
<strong>Electrical rate increase due to federal carbon pricing:</strong>
Council approved an electrical rate increase effective Jan. 1, which is a result of the federal government’s carbon pricing policy.
SaskPower estimates the carbon charge recovery from its various sources of power generation on an annual basis and sets a rate rider by customer class for the energy used. This carbon charge rate rider has been adjusted effective Jan. 1.
The City of Swift Current’s Light and Power division maintains an electric rate structure that is similar to SaskPower rates, which makes this adjustment necessary.
The average electrical rate increase for Light and Power residential customers due to the carbon pricing adjustment will be 0.355 per cent, which amounts to an average monthly increase of $0.23 for an apartment, $0.45 for an average home, and $0.64 for a large home.
The average increase on total annual billing for small, medium and large customers will be 0.48 per cent.