Balanced operating budgets with zero per cent tax increases in 2021 and 2022 were passed by Red Deer city council on Thursday.
The city will have $379.3 million to run programs and services next year and a further $384.9 million in 2022.
Mayor Tara Veer credited administration for sticking to the no-tax-increase guideline put forward by council. This means that property owners whose homes with average assessed value will not see any increase to the city portion of their tax bills in 2021 or 2022.
“This puts us in a very sound position. (Administration ) did all the heavy lifting, and made council’s deliberations easier,” she said.
Red Deerians, many who have struggled financially, will also see no increases in user fees or any new fees in the next two years — which was another guideline set by city council.
Veer said the aim was to minimize the financial impacts while citizens and businesses are experiencing increased strain due to the recessed economy and COVID-19.
As well, a 0.5 per cent capital contribution will be made towards future infrastructure projects, and utility rates will increase by no more than 0.5 per cent.
The multi-year budgets maintain service levels, while ensuring city infrastructure continues to be maintained. They also stick to a council policy that limits debt to 75 per cent of the provincial debt limit.
A 2023-2024 operating plan was also approved in principle to allow the city to plan more effectively, and to assess future community needs.
Veer explained city administration does its best to estimate expected service levels and budget needs in future years to allow for transparent planning. “However, we are unable to guarantee funding from provincial and federal governments and changes in the local economy, which is why these plans are approved in principle.”
Funding for the operating budgets are is primarily obtained through property taxes, user fees and grants.