Yesterday, the provincial government released its 2023-2024 budget showing a surplus in the billions with a focus on health, education, public safety and paying down debt – a signal to Albertans that positive change is coming its way. Here in Red Deer, a positive budget means continued investment in previously announced major projects and maintained funding for our operating and capital budgets.
“The reported surplus has allowed for positive investments in Red Deer and Central Alberta. We are optimistic this will equate to investments in key infrastructure and programs that impact the daily life of Albertans,” said Mayor Ken Johnston.
In the next two years, the Red Deer Regional Hospital will see $320.6 million, which is assumed to the beginning of the $1.8 billion investment announced in 2022, with a completion date of 2030. There is also maintained funding for the integrated emergency shelter and the completion of the Justice Centre.
“Red Deer has been strong and united in its voice for a proper hospital serving Red Deer and region. It is positive to see provincial commitment to addressing the ongoing and real challenges our hospital faces. We look forward to understanding more how this financial commitment translates into action in terms of the planning for and building of this critical piece of infrastructure.” said Mayor Johnston. “Our region is also getting an economic boost with a $30 million commitment for the Red Deer Regional Airport expansion. Increases in infrastructure spending, like the hospital, Justice Centre and airport build healthy communities and support economic development in our community.”
Funding transfers to municipal governments seem to have remained steady or increased. The Municipal Sustainability initiative (MSI) operating grant is doubling for 2023/24. We hope this means Red Deer’s portion will also double. We budgeted approximately $700,000 so we’d expect to receive $1.4 million which will mean an adjustment to our 2024 approved operating budget. With it being a one-time increase, the end result is to increase any year-end operating surplus, which is then transferred to our Operating Reserve – Tax Support (ORTS) in 2024.
As for the MSI capital grant, the 2023/24 program will remain the same. However, this program will transition to the new Local Government Fiscal Framework in 2024/25 and is expected to increase to $722 million.
“Based on this budget it looks like we will see an increase in our MSI/LGFF operating and capital grants which, once we know the exact amounts, we will be able to make recommendations on how this could be allocated this year and into our multi-year budget,” said Tara Lodewyk, City Manager.
Through property taxes, municipalities are responsible for collecting the education requisition from their property owners, which is sent to the province to fund education. This year, Red Deer’s portion will decrease by 2.36 percent. The reduction in education property tax will be combined with the 4.61 per cent municipal increase for the 2023 property tax notices. The overall property tax increase will be finalized when the Tax Rate Bylaw is approved by Council in April. In 2023, The City will collect $43.4 million on behalf of the provincial government to fund education through property taxes.
The City will continue to review the provincial budget to understand any other impacts to The City’s budget and the community.
“Overall, this is a good news budget,” said Mayor Johnston. “Red Deerians, and all Albertans have been experiencing the financial impacts from COVID followed by sharp inflation. This budget sees an increase in supports to cope with these pressures, and that will equate to positive impacts on our community.”
To view the 2023-2024 provincial budget, visit www.alberta.ca/budget.
For more information on The City’s approved multi-year budget, visit www.reddeer.ca/budget.