11/09/2016 15:24 EST | Updated 11/10/2017 00:12 EST

Minister tells Saskatchewan rural municipality delegates revenue sharing may drop

SASKATOON — Saskatchewan's minister of government relations is warning revenue sharing could be reduced to rural communities.

Minister Donna Harpauer spoke to delegates at the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities's mid-term convention in Saskatoon on Wednesday.

She said that decreased revenues in sales tax are leading to drops in revenue sharing for the next fiscal year.

This year, RMs received more than $77 million in revenue sharing.

Harpauer says RMs have a lot of infrastructure commitments ahead.

She says the province hopes to keep similar funding despite what she calls "extreme" fiscal pressures.

"And when the results of the 2016 census are known, we will be revisiting the distribution of the four revenue sharing pools as per the requirements in the legislation," Harpauer told delegates.

Association president Ray Orb suggested reviving the rural crime watch to address rural policing.

In the past few months, some farmers have taken to arming themselves after several property crimes in rural communities in September.

Orb says the rural crime watch program was successful until it stopped about 10 years ago.

"We work well with crime watch, we have a large number of municipalities that work with crime watch and Crime Stoppers is another one, there's a good program out there.

"The RCMP has promised to do a better communications program, to work better with SARM to get that message out."

The convention continues Thursday.