January 2016 News Archive

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2016 operating budget balances vision and economic reality

January 14, 2016 12:11 PM
(Red Deer, Alberta)

City Council approved a $349.2 million operating budget today with a 2.9 per cent tax increase. This 2.9 per cent increase in the operating budget is made up of 1.53 per cent for operating costs, one per cent for capital savings, and 0.37 per cent in downloading costs from the provincial government.

“Given the economic reality we are navigating through, this is our lowest tax increase in 15 years. The last time the tax rate was below three per cent was in 2001.This year’s budget is all about balancing vision and the needs of our community with our current economic reality,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “We were faced with a number of opportunities and some challenges during the 2016 budget debate; however, I believe the budget approved today not only enables us to maintain existing programs and services but ensures responsive enhancements in critical areas our citizens have identified for us like transportation, safety and infrastructure.”

The City requires a 2.9 per cent increase in overall municipal tax revenue to fund the approved budget. For a home that has seen an average change in assessed value and is assessed at $325,000 for the 2016 tax year, this equates to an increase of $55.97 for 2016, or $4.66 per month.

The 2016 tax rate will be set later this spring. That tax rate will then be combined with the education tax rate and the Piper Creek Foundation requisition to help determine how much property tax residents will pay. An assessed property value is multiplied by the property tax rate to determine a resident’s property tax bill.

“Eighty three per cent of citizens surveyed as part of The City’s annual citizen satisfaction survey told us they get very good value or fairly good value for their tax dollar,” said City Manager Craig Curtis. “We believe this budget continues to provide good value for each tax dollar, balancing the current economic climate while not compromising the future.”

The approved operating budget includes a one per cent capital contribution in 2016 and 2017. It also considers a $455,000 reduction in grant funding from the provincial government, which previously paid for provincial property taxes.

“There is a significant financial implication in the direct downloads and a lack of transparency in the indirect downloads from the province, which greatly impacts our budget and tax rate,” said Mayor Veer. “Some of the direct downloads in this budget, which The City must now fund, include the shortfall in funding three RCMP officers, elimination of the grant that covers the property taxes on some provincially owned buildings, and emergency shelter plan funding. We are also unsure of the budget impacts in light of the newly announced carbon tax and the impact on our citizens.”

Council considered approximately two million in corporate cost savings, revenues, and efficiencies to arrive at the 2.9 per cent tax increase.

Some additional key budget items include investment in a mass notification system that will enable The City to communicate differently with citizens about emerging issues and situations. City Council also approved six new police members, an investment in roads, neighbourhood parks, increased action bus service, transit to new areas in Timberlands and expanded night service. These investments focus on priority areas identified by Red Deerians through various feedback mechanisms including surveys and open houses.

“The approved budget responds directly to City Council’s Strategic Direction and acknowledges the priorities of citizens,” said Curtis. “Despite the economic uncertainty we currently face, the approved 2016 budget ensures we can continue to maintain the quality of life Red Deerians desire and expect while minimizing the 2016 tax impact at a time when many are already feeling the pressure of a changing economy.”

The 2016 budget was approved after seven days of deliberation. Residents can find out more about the 2016 budget by visiting The City’s website at .

For more information, please contact:

Tara Veer     
The City of Red Deer         

Craig Curtis
City Manager
The City of Red Deer

Communications and Strategic Planning
The City of Red Deer

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