Proposed property tax increase continues to shrink

Red Deer city council works through $357-million operating budget

City council chipped away at the 2017 proposed property tax increase and reduced it to 2.28 per cent from 2.45 on Wednesday.

Council decided to use $210,000 from operational savings to address shortfalls in permits and subdivision revenue as they started combing through the $357-million draft operating budget.

Mayor Tara Veer said extremely slow growth for the private sector is having significant effects on revenue in building and development. This was a way to resolve that challenge and minimize the tax rate.

“What it does is use dollars that the community has already invested instead of overtaxing them in this budget year and it just flags for council to revisit the issue next year,” Veer said following the four-hour budget meeting.

She said the decision shows confidence that the economy will recover.

“We don’t know when it will recover, but we know that it will recover.”

To assist residents facing their own economic struggles, fees and charges for Recreation, Parks and Culture were frozen at city facilities. Council also approved $40,000 more for a fee assistance program to help more low-income citizens access those facilities.

“We recognize that not only are more people living in poverty, more people are living now on the threshold of economic challenge so we needed to be responsive to that and hold the line on costs on accessibility to facilities.”

She said the city has outstripped the public’s ability to pay those fees so there are fewer visits.

Council made a point of identifying a provincial funding shortfall of $130,000 for three Red Deer RCMP officers.

“Because there’s been no increase to that particular policing grant over the years, what’s happened over time is the buying power of that grant has become extremely regressive. Even though it was intended to essentially provide for three additional police members for a city of our size, over time it is in effect only funding two,” Veer said.

Each member costs the city $143,300.

She said one of the most critical sources of inequity between rural and urban municipalities is that the province continues to subsidize policing costs for rural municipalities while urban areas like Red Deer face higher policing costs that must be passed on to taxpayers.

Veer said the most expensive item in the operating budget is policing.

“The province is funding .01 per cent — .01 per cent — of our $33-million police budget. We need provincial support because .01 per cent is simply not sustainable for a municipality in this province,” said Coun. Ken Johnston.

Budget deliberations are scheduled to continue until Jan. 20.

Just Posted

Mothers Against Drunk Driving hold candlelight vigil

Four-and-a-half years ago Marilyn Rinas’ husband was killed in a collision with… Continue reading

Thousands expected at memorial for fallen police officer in Abbotsford, B.C.

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — The streets of Abbotsford, B.C., will be lined with… Continue reading

One person dead, five others injured in early-morning crash in Kingston, Ont.

KINGSTON, Ont. — A man who was checking the damage on his… Continue reading

Gus is a special, collaborative art exhibit inspired by motherhood

The portrait display by mother and son is showing in Red Deer

Robotics challenge sparks student interest in Red Deer

Student-built robots compete in fun challenge

Chicken crosses B.C. road, stops traffic

Rooster makes early morning commuters wait in Maple Ridge

Red Deerian honours her brother who died in a motorcycle collision

Houaida Haddad is encouraging Red Deer residents to donate blood

Red Deer County firefighters to be recognized for Waterton help

RCMP brass will give formal recognition Monday

Ron James tries to lighten humanity’s load through humour

The comedian returns to Red Deer for shows Dec. 1 and 2

100+ Women Red Deer donate to Christmas Bureau

About $14,000 will help with Christmas hampers and toys

Semi collides with vehicle on Highway 2 north of Ponoka

Members of the Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit dealt with a call on Highway 2 north of Ponoka

After 70 years, Red Deer veteran still remembers his traumatic war experience

Frank Krepps feels lucky to have survived the Second World War

Merritt Mountie charged with assault

Charges are in relation to an incident in May at the detachment, B.C. Prosecution Service said

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