Zero per cent tax increase possible says taxpayers’ association

Operational budget under discussion

Red Deer Taxpayers’ Association says a zero per cent tax increase for 2018 is an attainable goal for the city.

President Jason Stephan said over the past 10 years the city’s operational spending has significantly outstripped the city’s combined population and inflation growth and resulted in a $100-million gap.

That means the city’s $361.5-million operational budget could have been $100 million less had the city kept spending in line with inflation and population increases, he said.

“Normal households and businesses in Red Deer haven’t spent in the same way the city has. We’d like to see some discipline here which has been lacking,” Stephan said on Wednesday.

This week city council began discussing the budget which comes with a tax increase of no more than two per cent if approved.

He said spending in the last 10 years has translated into lost opportunities, for example funding a new aquatic centre that a large segment of the population wants.

No one is arguing that the city needs to focus on policing and safety priorities, but it could re-allocate its current spending, he said.

“The assumption they seem to be working from is all their other spending is perfect and good and necessary. Instead of looking to increase taxes during this really hard and challenging economic time, the city should look within itself to see where it can save money to address those priorities.”

Stephan said it’s important for council to look out for the interests of taxpayers and ask city manager Craig Curtis to be a wise and careful steward of taxpayers’ dollars.

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