Council trims proposed budget to 1.87 per cent increase


Approval of 2014 city budget expected Monday

The “tax-o-meter” read 1.87 per cent by the time council completed budget debate Thursday night.

The meter, which assessed the needed tax increase required to cover the 2014 budget, started off at 2.1 per cent when debate started on Tuesday evening. Administration had recommended the 2.1 per cent increase in the draft budget.

When it came to growth projects, council went from a suggested $1.8-million in new business cases to $1.6 million.

The draft budget will now head to Dec. 16’s council meeting for formal approval. Council’s budget deliberation meetings, which have been ongoing for the past three weeks, were held in their committee of the whole format, a more informal version of a council meeting.

Councillors had made more than 100 motions before the process concluded. While several were withdrawn, many more were up for debate as council tackled everything from the utility capital budget to the municipal operating budget.

“I’m confident that council will approve the budget,” said city manager Patrick Draper on Friday.

Draper said the budget, if it goes forward in its current form, is a fiscally responsible one that also manages to move forward some new initiatives for the city.

While he’s not sure how long it has been since an increase has been less than two per cent, he does know this is the lowest proposed increase in the last decade.

“My sense is council seemed pleased,” Draper said.

Approved new growth business cases were not as much as the expected revenue from new assessment growth. According to the “tax-o-meter,” $468,200 is currently earmarked as “residual.”

Draper said a policy is expected to come back in early 2014 for council debate and discussion on what to do with that remaining assessment growth.

Council opted to say no to some new positions and programs, and also chose to unfund or postpone other projects for consideration in future years.

There was nothing too small for council to cover – the mayor even put forward a motion for garbage container screening – but other motions have been bounced to early 2014 for policy discussion instead of budget discussion.

Those discussions will include consideration of the Community Village lease rate and portable and permanent sign fees and charges.


About Author

St. Albert Gazette

The St. Albert Gazette has been the source for news and community information in St. Albert and area since 1961. Today the twice-weekly full-colour tabloid delivers award-winning journalism in print, online and on mobile.