The mayor of the City of Wetaskiwin told the Chamber of Commerce luncheon crowd May 14 that the 2019 budget includes a tax increase, but that the city offers good value for that.
Speaking at the regular luncheon held at Montgomery Glen Golf Club this month, Gandam said the city council has made four commitments to local citizens: innovation, communication, accountability and fiscal responsibility.
Gandam also took a moment to introduce the new city CAO Peter Tarnawsky, who has been on the job since April.
The mayor told the audience that city council passed their tax rate bylaw at the May 13 meeting. Gandam said the city’s finances have been affected by reduced tax roll revenue, and council has also been working to reduce the gap between residential and non-residential tax rates.
Gandam said he feels Wetaskiwin offers good value for the tax rates it charges. A slow recovery to the provincial economy isn’t helping matters either.
The 2019 capital budget includes asphalt overlays, sidewalk replacement, the 51st Ave. reconstruction, utility upgrades, 62nd Street ditches and many other projects.
The mayor mentioned the national cannabis shortage, which explains why no stores have opened in Wetaskiwin yet. He said the federal government has placed a moratorium on new retailers until more product is available.
Gandam also noted that long-time councilor Patricia MacQuarrie recently tendered her resignation from council. He stated the city is obligated to hold a by-election to fill her seat on July 24, but the city is looking for an extension so the vote won’t have to be held in the middle of many voters’ summer vacations.
If an extension is granted, it will be posted on the city website. Nominations are open until June 12.
The mayor said the city was happy with the way in which the homeless shelter operated in downtown Wetaskiwin this past winter. Gandam said it was a very cold winter but the shelter was open for 85 days, had the help of 40 volunteers and had many donations from the community.
Gandam stated talks are ongoing for a permanent homeless shelter.