After seven days of deliberation, City council approved the 2015 operating budget with a recommended 3.77% tax increase. The operating budget totals $330.6 million.
“This budget focuses on building our core infrastructure and delivering services to our residents, all while maintaining quality of life,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “We made key investments in core services such as policing, emergency response, snow and ice control, transit and other road infrastructure, which the community has identified as priorities for council.”
The City requires a 3.77% increase in overall municipal tax revenue to fund the approved budget. For a home with an average assessment value change, which is assessed at $325,000 for the 2015 tax year, this equates to an increase of $70.13 for the year 2015, or $5.84 per month.
The new tax rate will be set later this spring. That tax rate will then be combined with the education tax rate 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.
“City council demonstrated its commitment to invest in core services and plan for the future of our City, all while acknowledging our current and changing economic reality,” said Veer. “This budget is highly responsive to priorities identified by our citizens and aligns with the strategic direction of City council with the most cost savings and efficiencies in the base budget. It allows us to plan for the short term but enables us to respond to issues and changing priorities as they arise.
“When you look at the actual operational component, we often hear from our public that they would like to move the community forward but they want to see operational increases in line with cost of living. I can genuinely say that our administration has endeavored to do that.”
City council approved a 1% capital savings investment fund to ensure it is able to fund growth and amenities the community wants and needs in the future.
Substantial corporate cost savings and efficiencies were incorporated into this year’s budget.
“By council’s approval of this we are building for growth. It takes a reasonable first step in a response to our need to plan for the future without presuming excessive financial pressures that our citizens may be faced with in light of our changing economy,” said Veer. “This budget introduces measured capital savings for growth-related infrastructure in the future and those decisions will come, but we’re planning for our future in a way that can be measured and can always be revisited when necessary to do so in order to respond to our changing community and our changing economic climate.”
Some of the items approved in this year’s operating budget include $80,000 for downtown initiatives which includes the Ross Street Patio. The RCMP and City fire department will see an increase in employees. Council approved six new RCMP officers and three municipal support at a cost of $559,650. Also approved was 10 new firemedics for a total of $877,165.
Other key budget items include financial investment in the Red Deer Regional Airport and the Red Deer Public Library as well.
“The items put forward in this year’s operating budget invest in core programs and services that make Red Deer such a great community,” said City Manager Craig Curtis. “The investments made represent the delivery of quality services for Red Deerians today, and in the future.”