As was expected with the release of the Provincial Budget yesterday, The City of Red Deer will work to maintain the programs and services citizens expect with reduced Provincial funding.
Given Alberta’s continued economic challenges, The City anticipated a drop in Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding and has budgeted appropriately. Administration built The City’s proposed capital plan with a reduction in MSI funding.
“This is the austerity budget we were expecting and planned for as a municipality. We are, however, encouraged to see that municipal capital funding will be legislated as The City’s capital plan relies heavily on this source,” Mayor Veer said. “Our budgets are built with community and province building in mind, and this predictable funding source will provide stability in long-term infrastructure planning.”
Municipalities will also see a province-wide reduction of $30 million in grants in place of property taxes paid by the Provincial Government by 2023 compared to the amounts received in 2018. The amount will be reduced by 25 per cent in 2019-2020 with a further reduction of 25 per cent the following year.
In terms of community safety and crime, one of Council’s priorities in their 2019-2022 Strategic Plan, the Government will continue its investment in the Justice Centre and there will be an additional $50 million investment over the next four years in the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT).
“Safety is the top priority for The City of Red Deer and our citizens. The continued development of the new Provincial Justice Centre reinforces our ongoing efforts to enhance safety in our community by strengthening the court’s ability to uphold charges and obtain justice for victims of crime,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “The additional funding for ALERT is a welcome enhanced investment in combating organized and serious crime with the result of creating safer communities for all Albertans.”
To further our commitment to safety and crime reduction, Red Deer is advocating for several new Crown Prosecutors with the previous announcement of 50 Crown Prosecutors across the province. It is also hoped that Red Deer and region will get a number of the 4,000 addictions treatment spaces announced as part of our response to local social issues.
“As a community, we are disappointed in the lack of funding for the expansion of the Red Deer Regional Hospital in this budget,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “However, the opportunity exists for our community to advocate jointly for this expansion and to work with The Province to develop a pragmatic phasing plan for its development.”
Like many other communities, Red Deer continues to experience gaps in social services for mental health and addictions. The City will work with the Provincial Government on these initiatives including the implementation of mental health and addiction services and opioid response strategies. These initiatives align with Council’s priorities in the current Strategic Plan.
“There is still a need for Provincial infrastructure investment in the form of a 24/7 shelter in Red Deer,” said Mayor Veer. “We’ve discussed this need with the Minister of Seniors and Housing and we will be working alongside her in the coming months to convey the scope and needs in Red Deer to ensure it is included in future budgets.”
While it is still critical that Alberta gets its energy to market, the announcement of the reduction in the corporate tax rate has the potential to stimulate private investment and spur economic development in Red Deer in the meantime.
Administration will continue to review the Provincial budget and watch for more details in the coming weeks. The impact on property tax notices will be calculated in April when the approved municipal operating budget is combined with the Provincial Education Requisition and tax rates are set by Red Deer City Council.
For more information, please contact:
Mayor Tara Veer
The City of Red Deer
Communications & Strategic Planning
The City of Red Deer