Council approves 2019 budget

AIRDRIE, ALBERTA – After a month of deliberation, Council approved the 2019 operating and capital budgets at the Dec. 3, 2018 Council meeting.

“Balancing community wants and needs both today and in the future with the resources required to support them is always a difficult task,” said Mayor Peter Brown. “Taking what we heard from residents in the citizen satisfaction survey guided the strategic priorities we created for 2019 to 2022 and the strategic priorities help guide the budget to support them. Although this budget will further the City’s priorities and help build financial sustainability for the future, we recognize that it is coming in an unpredictable economy and we will continue to monitor the local financial environment throughout the year.”

Council approved an operating budget of $150,090,870 and a capital budget of $20,217,460. The overall effect to the average residential homeowner with an assessed value of $404,000 is projected to be $69 annually or $5.75 per month.

“This budget allows us to make fiscally progressive and sustainable decisions for the future,” said Lucy Wiwcharuk, Director, Corporate Services and CFO. “It will ensure the community continues to receive the current services, addresses community safety and applies the financial resources needed to move the City forward.”

The 2019 budget will raise an additional $4,734,730 in tax revenue to support services and sustainability as shown below:

  Tax revenue
Municipal services (not including protective services) 1.29% $721,000
Protective services 5.18% $2,895,730
Tax stabilization reserve 2.00% $1,118,000
Total tax revenue increase 8.47% $4,734,730

Utility fees cover the cost of water, sewer and waste management. The City was able to negotiate favourable rates for Waste and Recycling Services resulting in savings of $44 per year for the average homeowner. Negotiations with the City of Calgary for water and sewer services have resulted in additional savings of $46, bringing the total expected annual savings to $90 per year.

As well as the property tax increase, a two per cent increase to franchise fees was also approved. Franchise fees are similar to rent that utility companies pay for being allowed to access City land and to provide exclusive service within City boundaries. This fee is passed on to residents by service providers.

Year over year comparison based on an average residential household annual cost

 20182019Change
Municipal tax $1,700 $1,844 $144
Utility costs $1,670 $1,580 ($90)
Net change     $54
Plus: effect of 2% franchise fee increase$15
Net annual effect $69

 

Fiscal sustainability framework and strategy
One of Council’s 2015-2018 strategic priorities was to create a fiscal sustainability framework. This framework, as well as a new and updated financial policy, was approved by Council in 2018. The identified strategies and principles will improve the City’s finances and overall financial sustainability and have been used to guide the budget development.

Protective services
The cost of protective services - Police, Fire and Municipal Enforcement - makes up more than half of the tax increase in the 2019 budget ($2.9MM). The 2019 budget includes the four additional firefighters, two additional RCMP officers and five additional RCMP administrative staff. Administrative staff will give officers more time in the field by shifting administrative work away from officers. More than $1MM is included to pay for the full year cost of six RCMP officers added in 2018.

Tax stabilization
Two per cent of the increase will go directly to the stabilization fund. It is earmarked to offset operating costs for the new library (built in 2020, opened in 2021) and the City’s fourth fire hall, which is planned to be open in 2022. Progress is being made for a new west side recreation centre. The 2019 budget includes funds to pay for the cost of recreation centre lands in the amount of $740,000.

Municipal services
Municipal taxes cover the cost of civic services including park maintenance, recreation, street sweeping, engineering services, snow removal, community growth, infrastructure, social planning, community development, administration and more.

Other budget highlights
$230,000 in financial resources have been included to launch the City’s Economic Strategy, which aims to build revenue streams by diversifying our economy, revitalizing our downtown and shifting the assessment split to be less focused on residential. $105,000 is included in the budget to implement Council’s recently endorsed youth and domestic violence strategies.

Capital budget
Over the next three years, the City’s capital spending is projected to be within the $20.2-$103.6 million range annually. The capital budget includes major projects such as the new library facility, the Yankee Valley Blvd. CPR underpass and building a new fire hall in the NE.

Budget process
Each year, City administration prepares a three-year operating budget and ten-year capital budget driven by Council’s strategic priorities and business plan goals. During annual budget deliberations, the Council Budget Committee reviews the first year of the each budget in detail and reviews subsequent years for possible new services, facilities or other pressures on the horizon. The current year of each budget is adopted by Council, with subsequent years accepted for information.
The City uses a variety of methods to educate residents on the budgeting process. Complete budget information and budget presentations are available at www.airdrie.ca/budget.

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Media contact:

Lucy Wiwcharuk
Director of Corporate Services and CFO
City of Airdrie
403.948.8800 ext. 8459

 

 

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