Following an intense review of the City’s revenues and expenses, Chestermere City Council passed the 2016 final budget on Monday with a municipal tax rate cut of -4.9%.
“Budget always causes a lot of debate amongst Council as we try to balance out the wants of the community with the need to be fiscally responsible,” said Mayor Patricia Matthews. “This year was especially difficult given the hard economic times some of our residents are facing but this budget will allow for some breathing room for taxpayers.”
Initially the preliminary budget projected a 1.5% increase to the municipal tax rate for 2016. As 2015 progressed and the provincial economy continued to decline, Council asked staff to find savings in order to minimize the tax impact on residents.
Following diligent review and incorporating the final growth numbers of the community, Administration presented a final budget to Council on May 16. Instead of requesting an increase, the City plans to reduce the tax rate by -4.9%.
Although the majority of homes in Chestermere increased slightly in assessed value last year, Council’s approval of the 4.9% municipal tax rate decrease means that the average home* will see a decrease in the municipal portion of their taxes.
“We always strive to make every dollar go as far as possible but we were especially careful this year in identifying ways we could find savings while still providing high quality services. Those decisions combined with an increase in growth have allowed us to cut the tax rate,” said Dr. Randy Patrick, the Chief Administrative Officer for the City.
Despite the tax rate decrease, the City intends to keep providing all programs and services currently offered. Service levels may be affected slightly as the City is providing services to more residents while under a hiring restraint.
A number of significant projects are still planned for 2016 including the addition of a South Link Connection (a bridge over the canal south of the Kinniburgh area) and the beginning of an upgrade of Township Road 240. Supplemented through grants and developer contributions, these multi-year projects are essential to the continued growth and sustainability of Chestermere.
Other projects that will continue this year include upgrades to parks and pathways, the building of a community space for non-profit community groups (including Synergy) and the addition or upgrade of several outdoor recreational amenities.
More information on the 2016 budgets is available at www.chestermere.ca/budget.
*An average home in Chestermere increased in assessed value by approximately 4.5% in the previous year.