2017-2018 Budget Approved
December 5, 2016
At the meeting on December 5th, City of Chestermere Council passed the 2017-2018 Municipal Budget.
“After very vigorous debate, Council passed a budget at our meeting that represents months of hard work by staff to reduce costs and further increase efficiencies while still providing quality services,” says Mayor Patricia Matthews.
Following a detailed internal budget preparation and review process, extensive public engagement, and hours of discussion and deliberation, Council approved the budget with a 2.3% increase in the municipal tax requirement for 2017 and 2% for 2018. The budget for 2019 was also prepared and accepted as information to serve as a guide for future planning.
“Over the three-year period since 2016 we have averaged a 1.43% increase to minimize the tax impact on residents as much as possible,” says Dr. Randy Patrick, Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Chestermere.
Patrick explains that in spite of a low non-residential tax base, Chestermere is one of the most efficient municipalities in Alberta, particularly when measured on personnel to resident ratios, salaries, and expenditures per capita. “We work hard to provide great services at reasonable rates and continually search for ways to be even more effective,” he says.
The budget reflects that approach and was thoroughly analyzed to find all possible cost savings. Those efforts amounted to a tax requirement reduction of $2.5 Million from the initial budget plan.
The savings were accomplished by delaying or eliminating projects, not adding any new tax funded staff positions for two years, pausing additional contributions to savings for two years and searching for alternative sources of funding. In addition to Administration’s efforts, Council scrutinized and removed or adjusted several projects prior to the final budget approval.
While significant cost savings were found, the budget ensures that municipal services and major projects will continue. These items include the upgrade of Township Road 240, necessary road rehabilitation projects, a few pathway upgrades, improvements to lakefront parks, the addition of a soccer field at Our Lady of Wisdom School and various operational improvements. The vast majority of the new projects are paid for by provincial or federal grants, not local tax dollars.
“While we worked hard to reduce requests wherever possible,” says Matthews, “we are pleased to continue to offer the services that residents rely on. We will also initiate a few key projects that will allow our community to be well prepared for future growth.”
By pursuing a multi-year budget, Administration and Council hope to find new efficiencies in planning but also align with new requirements from the Province.
“A multi-year budget approval is new to Council and ahead of the changes in the Municipal Government Act,” says Matthews. “It allows for Council in the next term to work on their new Strategic Plan and associated budget while the organization continues to operate under an approved budget.”
With the improved multi-year budget approach, City staff are also adjusting the explanation of the tax rate and hope it brings increased understanding to residents.
“Instead of complex assessment based explanations, using the ‘net tax requirement increase’ term means that residents can expect to pay 2.3% more than they paid last year,” says Brenda Hewko, Controller for the City.
On average, for residents with a home assessed at $500,000, the increases translate to approximately $60 more in municipal taxes in 2017 and $53 more in 2018.
Going forward, the City plans to expand the multi-year budgeting approach and conduct further development and review of municipal service levels. These adjustments are anticipated to continue to add value to the budgeting process in the future.
While Provincial education taxes are also collected by the municipality on the property tax bill, the City has no control or jurisdiction over the education portion and forwards all proceeds directly to the Province. The budget approved by Council refers only to the municipal portion of the tax bill.
Interested in learning more about the budget?
Read more about the budget preparation process here.
If you have any questions about the budget process, contact the Corporate Services Department at (403) 207-7050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.