On day one of its operating budget meeting, Red Deer City council heard presentations from administration to get a sense of just what the City is working with for 2017.
The City manager’s report covered the recent economic forecast, council guidelines for the recommended budget and priorities gathered from citizen surveying.
“Today was an opportunity to get the economic context locally and to start thinking in terms of the various options that we have at our disposal tomorrow,” said Mayor Tara Veer.
The tax rate increase needed to balance the budget is now 2.45%, said Chief Financial Officer Dean Krejci, a reduction from the initial 2.51%. The decrease came as a result of moving software support and maintenance under the Enterprise Business Applications Project to 2018.
The original 2.51% increase comprised of 1% for capital contribution, 1.29% for operating costs and 0.22% to pay the provincial carbon tax. This would mean for a home assessed at $325,000, the owner would pay an extra $50 in municipal taxes this year.
Krejci said this year’s budget will be one of the most challenging for the City. He cites the need to keep up with public demand for City services, with reduced revenues while keeping the tax rate increase to a palatable level.
Director of Corporate Services Paul Goranson gave the final presentation of the day today, highlighting organizational changes he said have allowed the City to provide better services more efficiently. In total, $6.1 million in cost savings and revenue generation ideas for council to consider.
Council is expected to begin deliberations tomorrow at 1 p.m. at City Hall. Budget talks are scheduled through to Jan. 20th.