Red Deer County ratepayers to get tax break

Red Deer County hopes to freeze municipal taxes for the next three years

By PAUL COWLEY

Advocate staff

Red Deer County hopes to hold the line on tax rate increases for the next three years.

A three-year draft budget that went before council on Tuesday calls for no municipal tax rate hikes through the 2017 to 2019 budgets barring significant financial changes.

The 2017 operating budget is projected at $45.6 million, $45.9 million in 2018 and $45.2 million in 2019. Capital budgets are projected at $26.4 million, $16.7 million and $20.4 million.

County corporate service director Heather Gray-Surkan called it an “achievable and fair budget,” in her presentation to council.

It manages to maintain existing service levels without resorting to tax increases. Pay for council and nearly 90 staff will be frozen for next year as a cost-saving measure.

Deputy Mayor Christine Moore said council was determined to bring in a budget that did not put additional tax burden on residents.

“We believe it was the time to do that without compromising our services,”said Moore.

“I think we’re bearing in mind the current reality. We’re very cognizant of our taxpayers’ challenges right now, residential, commercial and industrial.”

By adopting a multi-year budget, as many municipalities are doing these days, has been helpful.

“With our three-year budget plan, we know what’s coming,” she said. “I think the budget reflects the county’s strategic plan for the future.

“Our diversification is helping us with our tax base. It’s given us some assurances as we continue to develop, especially in Gasoline Alley.”

Council was warned by staff that there are some financial challenges ahead and some unknowns.

For instance, the value of all county property assessments won’t be known until next spring. If they are much lower than projected, council will have to decide whether to raise taxes or cover the shortfall out of reserves.

How much can be expected in provincial grants is also based on estimates after speaking with provincial staff.

The county is also coping with declining revenues from linear taxation, taxes on pipelines, power lines and similar infrastructure. Those revenues are expected to fall $1.2 million in 2017, $2.8 million in 2018 and $3.8 million in 2019.

The budget focuses on maintaining key infrastructure, including roads, bridges, water lines and reservoirs.

Next year, $3.3 million will be spent on bridge repairs, and the construction of two roundabouts and improvements to Laura and Waskasoo Avenues in Gasoline Alley will cost $7 million.

The budget will come back to council for approval on Dec. 6.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

RCMP officer accused of sexual assault could take stand Thursday

Crown prosecutor expected to finish her case in morning

Red Deer area has lower than average vaccination rates

Medical officer of health encourages parents to prevent serious diseases

Red Deer school hopes community will help keep meal program running

Funding for provincial nutrition program not guaranteed in the fall

Red Deer-area farmers need this week’s rainfall

County ag specialist favours moderate showers— not a deluge

WATCH: 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

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov wins Hart, Lindsay at NHL Awards

LAS VEGAS — Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov won the Hart Trophy and… Continue reading

RCMP allows officers to grow beards

Members can now wear beards and goatees, as long as they’re neatly groomed

Former starting QB Mike Reilly returning to Edmonton as member of B.C. Lions

Mike Reilly returns to Commonwealth Stadium on Friday night, but Edmonton head… Continue reading

Ottawa Redblacks look to improve in Week 2 against Saskatchewan Roughriders

OTTAWA — The Ottawa Redblacks are confident things can only get better.… Continue reading

Opinion: Trans Mountain pipeline proceeds should be invested in Alberta

By David Marsden There’s a much-expected sigh of relief now that the… Continue reading

Why Solar: Alberta is serious about the energy transition

The powers that be are a misguided bunch, literally. It would seem… Continue reading

Follow the money: Salary cap could spawn NHL trade frenzy

Matt Niskanen wasn’t totally shocked when the Washington Capitals traded him to… Continue reading

Most Read