Connect with us


Discussions Set To Begin On Red Deer’s 2017 Operating Budget


5 minute read

By Sheldon Spackman

Red Deer City Council is set to consider the 2017  Operating Budget. Presentations and discussions begin at City Hall starting at 1:00 pm on January 10th.

After the approval of the 2017 Capital Budget and Ten Year Capital Plan on November 23rd, Council will now turn it’s attention to the $357 million Operating Budget which aims to focus on sustainability for both people and services by keeping tax increases to a minimum while maintaining core services.

Currently, the proposed Operating Budget calls for a 2.51 percent property tax rate increase in 2017, the number City Council will try to wittle down once deliberations begin. The two and a half percent property tax rate increase being proposed represents a $3.2 million increase to the Operating Budget, which includes a 1 percent increase for Capital amenities and growth. City officials say this would translate to a roughly $50 increase per year in the municipal portion of a property tax bill on a Red Deer home assessed at $325,000.

In regards to the 2.51 percent starting point for Council, Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says “This is the lowest recommended operational budget in about 15 years of City history, Council’s recognition of the current state of our economy.” Veer adds however that despite the lower than normal property tax rate increase being proposed, “there may very well be movement anticipated in that recommended percentage as well.” Veer also points out that in Council’s guidelines regarding the Operating Budget, the currently proposed property tax rate increase of two and a half percent is close to inflation and maintains a Capital Savings Program to relieve the City from having to Debt finance.

City Manager Craig Curtis says “This is the most challenging Budget I’ve worked on since returning to the City. There are huge challenges financially because we’re seeing much less growth, which translates into less Revenue and as we see less Revenue, we’ve also seen a decline in the use of our Transit System and our Recreation, Parks and Culture facilities, so the Revenues from those have also affected this Budget.” As a result, Curtis says one of the key initiatives in the 2017 Operating Budget is to look after the social well-being of our community, so they are recommending that user fees for City facilities remains the same next year, the first time the City has recommended that in many years.

However, Mayor Tara Veer and City Manager Curtis also point out that they are both disappointed that the Province’s new three-year pilot program for a low-income transit pass subsidy for residents in Calgary and Edmonton, is currently not extended to other municipalities, making it unfair to Albertans in mid-sized cities such as Red Deer. Curtis says “This is a total inequity. The fact that they have a pilot project stemming from their Big City Charters, that invests millions of dollars in their Transit subsidies, is not fair to those who operate Transit Systems in the middle sized cities.” Mayor Veer adds to those sentiments by saying the mid-sized cities represent close to 900,000 Alberta residents, which means they are being treated inequitably from those in the two larger centres by being less able to participate in their communities or access things like employment and educational opportunities, as well as other community and government resources.

Manager Curtis says their latest survey results indicate roughly 15 percent of Red Deer’s population currently lives below the poverty line, with residents having identified Crime, Transportation and General Municipal Government Services as their top priorities for this Budget. He says it’s important to note that this recommended Budget makes investments in Crime Prevention, Safety and Homelessness, a recognition of some of the Social challenges Red Deer is facing.

Many local organizations including the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce however, are hoping for a zero or minimal tax rate increase this year.

Operating Budget discussions will continue on January 11th – 13th and on January 16th, 17th and 18th if needed.

(Thumbnail provided by the City of Red Deer)

Follow Author


Hundreds of thousands march in Poland anti-government protests to show support for democracy

Published on

Continue Reading


DeSantis hits Trump from the right while the ex-president looks ahead to the general election

Published on


Continue Reading