2017 City of Red Deer operating budget “challenging”

2.51 per cent property tax increase projected; user fees frozen

“We have a lot of challenges,” City of Red Deer manager Craig Curtis said on Thursday when the 2017 draft operating budget documents were released.

The budget shows a property tax increase of $3.1 million (2.51 per cent). Before the pencil sharpening began, initial budget figures were close to a double-digit increase in taxes, he said.

Dean Krejci, the city’s chief financial officer outlined the budget summary, which shows an operating budget in 2017 projected at $357 million.

Of that, about $239 million is supported with tax and other revenue such licences and user fees. The rest comes from the city’s utilities component ($97 million) and self-supported operations ($21 million). Numbers have been rounded off.

The proposed budget breaks down as 1.29 per cent, plus one per cent for capital projects, and amenities and growth, plus 0.22 per cent to cover the new carbon tax. The provincial tax is expected to cost the city $280,000 in 2017.

As it stands now, the impact of the draft budget would be about $50 per year on a home with an assessment value of $325,000.

This does not include changes to the educational portion of property taxes, which won’t be known until the province releases its budget in the spring.

Curtis said the city is seeing a significant drop in revenues from Transit, recreation, and building permit fees. Some projects and objectives will have to be slowed down, but the city is focused on maintaining core services.

The economic slowdown in Alberta is mostly to blame for the tougher conditions the city is experiencing. An example of the impact is construction growth, which usually brings in about $3 million, is projected to be only $1.3 million in 2017.

Craig said a lot of citizens are struggling in this economy, and the city needed to be cautious.

On that note, the city intends to freeze some user fees for 2017, including those for Transit and recreation and parks facilities. The city also plans to increase its Fee Assistance Program for eligible residents.

Curtis noted that the province has decided to provide low-income transit pass funding to Edmonton and Calgary, but not to mid-sized cities such as Red Deer.

Mayor Tara Veer, on behalf of Alberta mid-sized cities, wrote to the provincial government last month expressing concern that they were excluded from the program.

Council begins budget deliberations on Jan. 10.

barr@reddeeradvcoate.com

Just Posted

Trans Mountain pipeline expansion gets second green light from Ottawa

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government is giving the Trans Mountain pipeline… Continue reading

Sneak peak: Take a tour of Red Deer County’s best backyards, acreages and gardens

You can snoop around people’s backyards without any guilt while on a… Continue reading

New RDC president has three decades of experience working at colleges and universities

Peter Nunoda says he’s ‘excited’ to help transition the college into a university

Pro-pipelines rally draws crowd to City Hall

Canadian Taxpayers Federation says Canada missing out on billions in revenue

Blair says more gun-control action needed, signals no new steps before election

OTTAWA — Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair says more must be done… Continue reading

Pricey tours of decaying Titanic shipwreck delayed until June 2020

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Adventure tourists who paid $168,000 each to help… Continue reading

Police searching for suspect after shooting at Toronto Raptors rally

Toronto police are still looking for a suspect after Monday’s shooting that… Continue reading

The corporate winners and losers from the Toronto Raptors’ historic win

We The North mania spread across Canada as the Toronto Raptors created… Continue reading

Efforts continue to raise profile of New Brunswick sprint champion from 1900s

HALIFAX — A New Brunswick sprinter who achieved world-class success in the… Continue reading

Campaign to eradicate rodents puts other animals at risk

The bird was a female cardinal. It was on the ground and… Continue reading

Opinion: Throwing cold water on fee for calling firefighters

There’s never any upside to adversity. Whether it’s the loss of a… Continue reading

‘This is our story:’ Winnipeg General Strike commemorated on screen, stage

WINNIPEG — A moment in history that changed Canada forever is headed… Continue reading

Most Read