2017 “budget like no other”: mayor

Economic downturn loomed over city budgeting

Extraordinary is the word many Red Deer city councillors grasped to describe this budget cycle.

And they didn’t mean it in the good sense.

When council laid its own raises on the budget chopping block, Coun. Tanya Handley said it was “absolutely the right thing to do in these extraordinary times.”

Coun. Frank Wong alluded to the difficulty of budgeting in an “extraordinary year.”

Mayor Tara Veer called 2017’s $356-million operating balance sheet a “budget like no other.”

At another point she called it a “budget of many sacrifices.”

More than once the budget process was compared with taking a scalpel to city finances — the inference being surgical-like precision was used to slice out savings however small.

Minutes after passing the budget, Mayor Tara Veer explained the analogy.

“On some occasions, governments will take axes to budgets,” she said. “But in the process they will compromise services to a community and they will compromise on the community’s future.

“What we’ve done with this budget is methodically take a scalpel to every aspect of city operations and services so we can maintain our commitments to the public and meet the public’s expectations, but to do that in a way that absolutely kept in mind the financial realities.”

For council, 2017 was like no other budget because of a collision of sobering statistics and economic markers.

Unemployment sits at eight per cent and 15 per cent of Red Deer families are living in poverty.

For the first time in memory, the city’s population declined, slipping by 1,000 residents back under 100,000.

The ripples spread wide. Construction growth, which could once be counted on to add about $3 million to city coffers was pencilled in at $1.3 million for this year.

Overall, it is estimated the Red Deer economy contracted three per cent over the last two years, and with it the tax base. Transit rider numbers declined and the number of people using city recreation facilities also waned.

The Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce set the tone early by challenging council to hold the lines on taxes to reflect Alberta’s limping economy. After nine days of deliberations, council ended up at 1.52 per cent.

Veer said in this economic climate a zero per cent tax increase was possible but at the cost of losing services and the community made it clear that it wanted no compromise on policing and core services.

“But when push came to shove for us to deliver on a zero per cent would have meant cuts in service that our community would likely not have found acceptable.”


Just Posted

Man killed in collision near Markerville

A 55-year-old man is dead after a collision near Markerville Friday night.… Continue reading

La Loche school shooter carried out plan with ‘stark efficiency:’ Crown

MEADOW LAKE, Sask. — A Saskatchewan judge is weighing whether a teenager… Continue reading

Castor triple-murder trial resumes on Monday

Trial was delayed two weeks for two men accused of killing Castor-area family

Red Deer Royals are sending 1,000 letters to Trudeau

The band must pay for the last 20 per cent of fieldhouse costs

Central Alberta real estate market reflects Alberta’s slow recovery

Real estate markets will bounce back but incoming mortgage changes don’t help, say realtor groups

WATCH: A magical Harry Potter weekend in downtown Red Deer

Wizards, witches and muggles are flocking to downtown Red Deer to celebrate… Continue reading

B.C. ice rink where 3 people died remains closed due to safety concerns

FERNIE, B.C. — Residents who were forced from their homes because of… Continue reading

Trudeau condemns appointment of Mugabe as WHO ambassador

EDMONTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the appointment of Zimbabwe President… Continue reading

Friday Oct. 21: Winning Lotto Numbers

Friday, October 20, 2017 LOTTO MAX Winning Numbers 1 4 12 27… Continue reading

New northbound Hwy 2 lanes at Gaetz Avenue to open this Sunday

Drivers heading north through Red Deer on Hwy 2 will have a… Continue reading

Sockey Night at Saturday’s Rebels game

United Way Central Alberta is determined to provide warm feet for all… Continue reading

Canadian planet hunter seeking alien life

‘The shifting line of what is crazy’ says Toronto-born astrophysicist

All three victims identified in Fernie arena ammonia leak

Wayne Hornquist and Lloyd Smith were from Fernie and Jason Podloski from Turner Valley, Alta

4 B.C. prisons install body scanners to combat drug smuggling

The scanners are aimed to combat the smuggling of contraband including weapons and drugs

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month