Council approves 2016 budget
December 8, 2015/ For Immediate Release
AIRDRIE, ALBERTA – At the December 7, 2015 meeting, Council approved the 2016 Operating and Capital Budget.
The Council Budget Committee deliberated over five meetings to arrive at a recommended operating budget of $120,017,441 and a capital budget of $56,184,226. This means revenue generated from taxes will increase 3.00% or $1,365,500. A portion of the tax increase, $246,946 or 0.54 per cent has been flowed to reserves and earmarked as tax stabilization.
“Although I personally did not support this budget, my fellow Council members voted in favour,” said Mayor Peter Brown. “While I know that City staff worked hard to keep costs under control, I felt that we could have reduced expenditures in 2016 because of the economic downturn we are experiencing in this province. However, growth is always a factor in Airdrie and that is reflected in the addition of new RCMP officers, added funds for infrastructure improvements and increased reserves to stabilize tax dollars needed for future cost of police and fire.”
“City staff work hard to deliver a budget to Council that reflects the needs of our growing community and that leverages staff’s commitment to providing efficient services,” says City Manager Paul Schulz. “Alberta Municipal Affairs financial indicators demonstrate that Airdrie has the lowest expenditures per capita in nearly every major category compared with other mid-sized cities. We are committed to continuing to use taxpayer dollars effectively and responsibly.”
2016 Budget Highlights
The City utilizes a variety of methods to educate residents on the budgeting process, and to solicit feedback from residents of issues that matter to them.
A Look Closer campaign designed to provide residents with insight into the City’s budget consisted of targeted ads, as well as a newly released City Budget video, available on airdrie.ca.
In addition to the annual Citizen Satisfaction Survey, a Community Needs Assessment is done every three years, and periodically surveys are issued on specific issues, such as last year’s Snow and Ice Survey by Bannister Research and this year’s informal Look Closer municipal service survey. From the feedback provided, staff and Council are able to form a picture of what’s important to residents. The following budget areas are noted as key areas of importance to Airdrie residents.
The addition of eight RCMP officers will bring the total number of officers serving our community to 57, at a cost of $865,000.
$250,000 continues to be added to the snow maintenance reserve, this will increase capacity to deal with extreme weather events. The reserve will grow to $650,000 in 2016, aiming for a reserve of $1.3MM over the next few years. Provisions have been included in the operating budget to secure equipment on an as needed basis.
To help reduce traffic congestion, at a cost of $7MM (funded through developer levies) 8 Street - four laning Yankee Valley Boulevard to Hillcrest Way, and $9.4MM Yankee Valley Boulevard four laning from Bayside Gate to 24 Street will be completed.
It is anticipated that the city will add 35 acres of parkland in 2016. Additional staff is required to maintain and irrigate this space. Since 2005, the amount of irrigated land has increased 224 per cent. The Nose Creek Regional Park Enhancement project to revitalize the park space is anticipated in 2016 at a cost of $2.5MM.
User fees are anticipated to increase by approximately $250,000 in 2016. This increase reflects the full year operation of the Route 900 service the addition of a sixth ICE route to downtown Calgary, and anticipated ridership/revenue growth on internal services. Overall, Transit costs have decreased.
Please see the attached backgrounder for more highlights from the 2016 budget. The approved 2016 budget will be available online shortly at airdrie.ca.
Lynda Phelan, Corporate Communications
403.948.8880 ext. 8722