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Red Deer chamber says city budget sets right tone for business competitiveness

Robust debate by councillors was appreciated: CEO
Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce CEO Scott Robinson (Photo contributed)

While a municipal tax increase of 4.61 per cent in 2023 isn’t optimal, Red Deer Chamber stated they can live with it, under the circumstances.

Chamber CEO Scott Robinson noted the City of Red Deer is coming off two years of no tax increases due to COVID-19 and several planned city projects were either put on hold or eliminated.

Across Alberta, municipalities of all sizes and locations increased taxes to recover from COVID-19, respond to rising inflation and to replace reserve funds, as well as to address reduced government grants, Robinson noted.

“Though we would have liked the budget to reflect greater reductions and cost efficiencies, the reduced tax increase of 4.6 per cent from the proposed 4.79 per cent for the 2023 fiscal year, and the 4.12 per cent from the proposed 4.3 per cent for the 2024 fiscal year is a great start and sets the right tone for the City’s competitiveness,” he added.

The Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce acknowledged the difficult work that city council put into the 2023-2024 budget and commend councillors for a commitment to listening to the community.

“We appreciate City Council for listening to our perspectives and ensuring there was a robust debate and review of City of Red Deer operations and expenditures,” Robinson added.

Before council began budget deliberations, the Chamber canvassed member organizations with questions about fiscal accountability and cost efficiency. The Chamber also emphasized the importance of critical infrastructure, core service and program delivery to ensure that a competitive business environment is at the forefront of the City’s decision-making processes.

Robinson said, “Our message to City Council centered on fostering an environment where businesses can thrive and be powerful contributors to the future of Red Deer.

“There is work to be done to ensure our community’s competitiveness, however, the final budget shows constraint and reflection related to the impact increases in taxes and utilities have on the business community”.

The city budget process wrapped up Monday, on the sixth day of what was supposed to be a three-day process.

City Manager Tara Lodewyk said earlier this week, “This budget invests our resources towards maintaining the infrastructure and the things Red Deerians rely on while recognizing we are all feeling the same impacts of inflation in our homes and businesses.”