Some budgetary options are available to Red Deer city council to bring the 2020 tax increase lower than the proposed 2.5 per cent.
The city’s Chief Financial Officer Dean Krejci said, “What we are proposing to council is just a starting point.”
While “we did our best to reduce the tax impact on property owners through cost savings,” Krejci added there are three other options city councillors can consider to try to whittle down the tax increase further.
The first and most obvious option for reducing the proposed tax increase is for council to consider various reductions in tax-supported programs and services.
The problem here is reaction from Red Deerians who don’t want their services cut.
Another cost-reduction option is NOT to transfer $500,000 into operating reserves. This is a fund that can be drawn from to help pay for annexations and other one-time major expenditures,
Krejci noted this would make it more challenging to address emerging issues in future.
A last option for reducing the proposed tax increase is NOT to transfer one per cent of the operating budget towards capital projects.
Krejci said stopping this practise wouldn’t affect the 2020 capital budget, which is already approved. In fact, the lack of a one per cent capital contribution would not have a noticeable impact on the city’s capital plans until 2024.
He added, this indicates council could consider stopping the one per cent transfer for the short term — or could consider transferring less than one per cent to capital projects.
Krejci predicted council’s deliberations next month will shift between how much money should allocated where, how much service should be provided?