Citizens of the City of Wetaskiwin gathered at an open house at city hall Mar. 21 to have a chance to examine the 2019 municipal budget.
Held in the third floor foyer, the open house included Mayor Tyler Gandam along with councilors Patricia MacQuarrie, Pam Ganske, Wayne Nielsen, Kevin Lonsdale and Craig Billingsley. Councilor Alan Hilgartner was absent.
Acting city manager Sue Howard and several of the city department heads or senior staff were also present, including Kevin Lucas and Alex Plan.
About 10 members of the public attended.
Mayor Gandam spoke first and said council had the goal of “zero based budgeting,” closely examining and justifying every part of the budget.
Howard said councilors keep the tax increase this year to three per cent (modified by mill rate). Revenue collected by the city will also be earmarked for future projects and asset management.
Asset management was a central theme in a video shown to those present, explaining how the health of the city’s assets is very important to the city’s goals. Howard stated that the city is working to get infrastructure up to where it should be.
Councilors also had a short question and answer period that included questions about the airport, water supply, sewer, economic development, railway crossings and infrastructure tax.
Mayor Gandam noted council is lobbying election candidates to talk about the Municipal Sustainability Initiative program; he stated if that program wraps up it will have a huge budgetary effect on municipalities.
Howard said the city has hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure needs and knows which roads, for example, need an asphalt overlay or a structural rebuild.
The public can pick up information about the 2019 city budget or online at https://www.wetaskiwin.ca/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/174.
Councilors will vote on the budget at an upcoming council meeting.