by Jessica Jones
Pipestone Flyer Freelancer
City of Wetaskiwin ratepayers will be expected to pay a little more this June, with council approving a 3 per cent tax increase, while giving the green light to the 2019 municipal budget.
Council made the decision during a special meeting held on March 28, after three days of budget planning, deliberations, and a public open house.
“I am very pleased with the budget,” mayor Tyler Gandam said. “All of the directors and managers started from scratch with their budget and only included the needs for 2019.”
“Council did a really good job at considering the needs of the community and growth for the future with saving into reserves,” agreed acting city manager Sue Howard, adding that priority-based budgeting allowed administration and council to strategically pare down the budget, lowering the tax increase, which earlier in the year, was proposed at 7-8 per cent.
“I think that staff worked hard to make sure we got the budget down to a reasonable level, and considering what we have been hearing from the community — I think those objectives were met through the budget,” Howard said.
The total operating budget is valued at $39.3 million, with a significant portion, $5.8 million, being dedicated to engineering capital projects, such as asphalt overlays, road reconstruction, sidewalks, and transportation planning. Other areas of priority in the budget are public safety and security, organizational accountability and community connection and engagement.
“I feel this budget will help continue to meet the needs of the city,” Gandam said. “Safety has been a very big issue for our city and we have committed more funding to the RCMP, as well as to our community policing needs.”
Taxation accounts for 47 per cent of the City of Wetaskiwin’s total revenue. Property tax notices are annually mailed out in mid-May, with no ability for property owners to appeal the tax rate.
A budget document detailing the projects and initiatives planned for the year can be viewed online, at www.wetaskiwin.ca/budget2019.