Public perception of downtown safety in Red Deer should improve with more police patrols, some businesses say. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Red Deer businesses react to 2.02 per cent tax increase for 2018

Chamber would prefer zero increase, while DBA thinks it’s reasonable

Red Deer’s business community is divided over whether the 2.02 per cent tax increase needed to cover the city’s 2018 operating budget could have been lower.

Red Deer spends too much, compared to other Alberta communities, said Reg Warkentin, policy and advocacy manager for the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce.

In a Spending Watch report by the Canadian Federation of Independent businesses, Red Deer is shown to have spent $1,808 per capita in 2015 — well above Medicine Hat ($1,396) and Grande Prairie ($1,650), but a little below Lethbridge ($1,834) as well as Edmonton ($2,119) and Calgary ($1,955).

While Warkentin wasn’t surprised by the 2.02 per cent tax increase passed last week, he was hoping the city would find further “efficiencies” to keep spending in line with a zero per cent tax increase.

He believes city managers should have looked into out-sourcing, public-private partnerships, and finding different ways to do things like training — so two administrative salaries don’t have to be paid while a new hire job-shadows the out-going manager.

“You can make meaningful cuts in spending without making cuts in services, Warkentin maintains.

But other business leaders believe city council did its best to keep spending down while still giving Red Deerians the amenities they expect.

“Tax increases happen whether the community wants them or not,” said Amanda Gould, executive-director of the Red Deer Downtown Business Association. Since some of the new money will cover the additional cost of 10 more police officers and some 2019 Canada Winter Games costs, she believes it will be well spent.

When downtown parking rates rise by 25 per cent in July, Gould hopes fewer cars will be parked all day along Ross and Little Gaetz. If people want to stay downtown a little longer, “maybe they will move back a street or two back,” where meter costs are less, she added.

Former city councillor Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer, who owns Comforts the Sole, said “I don’t like things going up,” but everything goes up, including taxes and the cost of the products retailers sell.

She’s pleased about the 10 additional officers — and so is the Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre, as well as business owner Mirwais Baray, of King Donair and Shawarma.

With taxes rising, Baray hopes business will also improve soon. Although he’s not sure more costly parking will help, he said, “we do need more police.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Schizophrenia a misunderstood illness, an Alberta expert says

Schizophrenia Society of Alberta campaign kickoff features TSN’s Michael Landsberg in Central Alberta

WATCH: Collecting coats and donations from drivers in Red Deer

Central Albertans made donations to keep children warm and neighbourhoods safe from… Continue reading

PHOTO: Fall Harvest Festival in Red Deer’s West Park

The West Park Community Association hosted the Fall Harvest Festival near West… Continue reading

Man dies in Hwy 2 collision near Ponoka

A 46-year-old man is dead following a three-vehicle collision on Hwy 2… Continue reading

Canyon Ski Resort aiming to open Nov. 10

The finishing touches are being put on Canyon Ski Resort trails just… Continue reading

WATCH: Blackfalds Fire teaches families about fire safety

An open house was held Saturday in support of Fire Prevention Week

Canada gets into Women’s World Cup with 7-0 win over Panama

FRISCO, Texas — Christine Sinclair isn’t concerned about chasing records. She’s set… Continue reading

Baldwin urges ‘overthrow’ of Trump government via voting

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Actor Alec Baldwin followed up his latest parody portrayal… Continue reading

Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

CANBERRA, Australia — Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex,… Continue reading

Sears files for Chapter 11 amid plunging sales, massive debt

NEW YORK — Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday, buckling… Continue reading

Doctors to debate medical pot as more patients expected to ask for prescriptions

VANCOUVER — Doctors with opposing views on whether medical marijuana should be… Continue reading

Halifax smoking ban begins today; city announces several new smoking areas

Halifax’s sweeping smoking ban begins today, two days before recreational cannabis is… Continue reading

Canadians widely unaware of accomplishments of famous women, poll suggests

TORONTO — The organization behind Canada’s Heritage Minutes says provincial education systems… Continue reading

Five things about what’s legal and what’s not in Canada’s new pot law

OTTAWA — Canada’s new law legalizing recreational cannabis goes into force on… Continue reading

Most Read