City council gets B+ for operating budget

Red Deer Chamber of Commerce appreciates council’s due diligence

Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce appreciated council’s effort to reduce the proposed property tax increase to 1.52 per cent from 2.51, says interim chief executive officer Rick More.

On Friday, council passed the 1.52 per cent tax increase for 2017 after nine days of debate on the $356.5-million operating budget.

The percentage is made up of 0.43 per cent for increases in operational costs, 0.3 per cent for the carbon tax and some electricity costs, and the transfer to a capital fund made up 0.79 per cent.

More said the Chamber attended all the budget meetings to see how council approached the multitude of costs making up the budget and their efforts to cut where they could while still putting money away for the capital savings plan for future projects.

“We asked for zero per cent. Getting close to one per cent was really what our target was. They did bring it down. That one per cent is going to make a big difference. We’re happy in that sense,” More said on Monday.

A 1.52 per cent increase will add about $30 to the typical property tax bill.

“Is it perfect? No. Nothing is. But it sure would have been maddening if they kept the status quo of 2.5. I’d give it a B+.”

He said it was a good experience for the chamber to go through the budget process and to see councillors asking a lot of questions about many of the items in the huge budget binder.

“They did their due diligence.

“In tighter times we have to say what can we do without for now. Everyone has to kind of pull together. We can’t have everything we want as we do in better times.”

More said hopefully 2017 will bring more prosperity so the focus doesn’t have to be on cuts in the future.

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