Municipal councils looking for savings as provincial cuts loom

Municipal councils looking for savings as provincial cuts loom

Innisfail town council freezes its pay and Lacombe considering 0% tax increase

Alberta’s tough economic times have prompted a council wage freeze in Innisfail, while Lacombe is considering holding the line on taxes.

This week, Innisfail’s council approved the wage freeze for 2020 and 2021 that had been proposed by a three-citizen remuneration committee. The town’s wage scale was compared with 10 other municipalities.

“The committee members all shared concerns with the recent provincial budget and current economic uncertainty,” says a report to council from Heather Whymark, director of corporate services.

“They did not feel it is appropriate to increase council’s remuneration at this time.”

Mayor Jim Romane receives $2,700 monthly and councillors get $1,300. Council members also receive $105 for a half-day meeting and $210 for a full-day session.

Lacombe council also wrestled with finances, given the economic climate, at its Tuesday evening meeting.

Council was looking at a proposed 1.4 per cent tax boost, which is in keeping with a policy to tie budget increases to the consumer price index.

Chief administrative officer Matthew Goudy said the provincial budget has had a $400,000 impact on the city’s finances this year and additional funding cuts are expected next year.

Coun. Reuben Konnik proposed a motion, which was unanimously supported, to look at other options, including a property tax freeze, rather than a 1.4 per cent increase.

“I think, quite frankly, we can do better. I’d really like to see what a zero per cent tax increase looks like.

“I think we owe it to our constituents.”

Konnik there are options for saving money, such as trimming cost-of-living increases for staff to 0.9 per cent from the proposed 1.4 per cent, or less money could be set aside in reserves.

“Times are still tough out there,” he said, point to recent statistics showing insolvencies and bankruptcies are at 20-year highs.

Konnik said while the proposed tax increases are not high — $42 extra on an average $380,000 home — many public sector workers and other employees are likely to see wage freezes and rollbacks in the future.

“I know it’s not a lot of money,” he said of proposed property tax increases. “I get that, and I’m not saying we need to do it every year.

”But for one time, I’d like to be able to say to citizens, ‘You know what — your property taxes aren’t going up next year.”

Konnik said he would like to see what impact a tax freeze and a 0.9 per cent tax increase would have on the budget.

Coun. Chris Ross questioned reopening the budget, saying council should be consistent in tying tax increases to the consumer price index.

Some services, such as BOLT transit, have already been axed, he said.

As well, earlier in the budget process, council voted to freeze its wages.



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Red Deer Boxing Club has raised money to expand programming but still needs a larger space to operate in when it’s allowed to reopen. (Contributed photo).
Red Deer Boxing Club has obtained $70,000 in grants but is still seeking a larger space

Without expanded programming, the grants must be returned: manager

Red Deer city council gave final approval to a mask bylaw that will go into effect on Nov. 30. (Black Press file photo).
Red Deer city council approves mask bylaw that takes effect Monday

It could be ‘superceded’ by a provincial mask bylaw, if one is announced Tuesday

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced more than 1,500 active cases in Alberta Monday afternoon and five additional deaths. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
New COVID rules coming

Central zone active cases up by 100 in last 24 hours

(Black Press file photo.)
Rocky police charge three suspects after pellet gun shootings

Three incidents results in several injuries

Lynn Van Laar, chair of this year’s Christmas Wish Breakfast, said the event was planned outdoors to minimize the risk of COVID. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
Outdoor Christmas Wish Breakfast helps central Alberta families this holiday season

The coronavirus pandemic isn’t going to stop children from having a merry… Continue reading

Hockey Canada president and CEO Scott Smith speaks during a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Hockey Canada announced Tuesday that two players at its nation junior selection camp have tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Two players at Canada’s World Junior selection camp test positive for COVID-19

Canada’s World Junior selection camp in Red Deer came to a screeching… Continue reading

Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) knocks a pass away from Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 23, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Goff throws for 376 yards, 3 TDs in Rams’ 27-24 win vs Bucs

Goff throws for 376 yards, 3 TDs in Rams’ 27-24 win vs Bucs

New York Red Bulls midfielder Dru Yearwood, left, fights for the ball against Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio during an MLS soccer match in Harrison, N.J., on November 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eduardo Munoz Alvarez
Experienced Toronto FC ready to take on upstart Nashville SC in playoff action

Experienced Toronto FC ready to take on upstart Nashville SC in playoff action

Canada's head coach Dave Lowry during practice at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland, on Wednesday, December 30, 2015. The Winnipeg Jets have hired Lowry as an assistant coach. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Former WHL head coach Dave Lowry joins Paul Maurice’s staff in Winnipeg

Former WHL head coach Dave Lowry joins Paul Maurice’s staff in Winnipeg

Felix Auger-Aliassime, of Canada, returns a shot to Dominic Thiem, of Austria, during the fourth round of the US Open tennis championships in New York on September 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Seth Wenig
A steady if unspectacular season comes to a close for Canada’s Auger-Aliassime

A steady if unspectacular season comes to a close for Canada’s Auger-Aliassime

Sacramento Kings' Alex Len (25) collects a rebound against Brooklyn Nets' Jarrett Allen (31) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Aug. 7, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ashley Landis
Raptors continue to shore up frontcourt, signing Alex Len to one-year deal

Raptors continue to shore up frontcourt, signing Alex Len to one-year deal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Freeland says Liberals will deliver economic, fiscal update on Nov. 30

Freeland says Liberals will deliver economic, fiscal update on Nov. 30

Most Read