Council approves 2016 Capital and Operating budgets
In a day-long session Thursday, Council managed to reduce the overall increase from a projected 12.33% tax hike in October to a more manageable 7.15%. Council also approved a special 1% Infrastructure levy bringing the total 2015 budget increase to 8.15%.
“We knew going into this budget that we were facing some tough decisions,” said Mayor Letham. “Cuts to capital spending, and reliance on reserves and debt have resulted in artificially low tax increases for the past number of years.”
Mayor Letham said the approved budget sets the City on the necessary course to move forward as a progressive municipality.
“This budget allows us to close the gap; this budget allows us to start focusing on investing in the infrastructure we so desperately need to invest in, and puts us on the right course for the future so that we can begin improving and enhancing our services and programs,” he said.
CAO Ron Taylor said the approved budget in conjunction with staffing and departmental realignments, Secondary Plan approvals, infrastructure investments and the ongoing Core Service Review will put the municipality in a competitively advantageous position moving forward.
“We are starting to see the results of a lot of our staff’s and Council’s hard work,” said Mr. Taylor. “Our staff continues to do great work bringing forward service level and programming recommendations as part of the ongoing Core Service Review for Council decisions.”
Departments within the City and externally-funded groups all worked extremely hard to sharpen their pencils and bring forward budget items that were necessary to properly fund services and programs while positioning the municipality for growth.
“Over the past several months we have been able to reduce our payroll and benefit costs by more than $2 million through attrition, more competitive benefit rates and operational realignments,” said Mr. Taylor. “Our staff and our municipally-funded agencies have all worked towards finding efficiencies to help reduce the bottom line.”
Mr. Taylor complimented staff for their diligent work on the budget recognizing the numerous challenges facing the municipality, and recognized Council for their vision and commitment in approving the 2016 budget.
“This was not an easy budget and these were not easy decisions for our Council,” Mr. Taylor said. “Approving this budget was the right decision and ensures that we can properly fund our programs, services and assets while we continue our Core Service Review and examine all of our operations.”
Mr. Taylor added the approved budget allocates financial resources to meet the City’s immediate strategic priorities.
“This budget ensures we are focusing on the key areas our residents and business have told us they wanted,” he said. “Growth and development attraction, enhanced human and community services and maintaining a healthy environment will be key drivers moving into 2016 and this budget ensures we have the right resources in the right places to make that happen.”
The approved budget, based on 2015 assessments and using the average residential value of $249,000, means property owners will see an increase in property taxes ranging from $60 to $154 over 2015.
“This is an aggressive budget that will allow us to properly fund and invest in our capital programs,” said Mayor Letham. “Our residents have been clear about the services and programs they want us to do a better job at. This budget puts us on a path to do that.”
For more information please contact:
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