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February 3rd, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 5
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Council adopts 2016 budget
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Herald archive photo
Crowsnest Pass municipal council
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
Council honoured its pledge to limit property tax increases to two per cent this year in a last minute budget meeting that saw cuts to the library support, non-profit groups and training and travel costs for council and municipal employees.

At a meeting on Jan. 12, CAO Sheldon Steinke listed a number of recommendations that totaled about $208,000 over the next three years to limit property tax increase in 2016 to 2.62 per cent, all of which were adopted.

Those changes include withdrawing $25,000 from municipal reserves, increasing business license fees by two per cent, cutting the Economic Development Committee’s funding by $20,000 and forgoing repairs to streetlights, the Crowsnest Lake dock and the municipal parade float.

But they were still 0.62 per cent shy of their goal.

Early in the morning on Jan. 25, council held a final budget meeting looking to squeeze about $80,000 out of bare municipal coffers, which they did. Because it has ample reserves, the Crowsnest Pass Municipal Library will receive no funding this year. It was to receive a $20,000 grant.

A Community Services fund to support non-profit initiatives such as trade shows and festivals was cut by 25 per cent to $15,000.

Council also cut training and travel expenditures for council members and staff and adjusted revenue projections before breaking for lunch and then making more cuts.
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When they passed the budget on Jan. 26, the mayor and council were happy with the results.

“We’ve been working on this budget since the fall,” said Mayor Blair Painter. “We’ve met at least once a week and spent many hours discussing and deliberating what we needed to do to come up with a minimum of a two per cent increase.”

“We tried to keep it as low as we could,” he added.

Council was keen to limit a property tax increase, as citizens will be paying an additional $10 per month on their utility bills starting July 1.

“That was not something I was horribly excited about doing,” said Councillor Dean Ward on the utility increase. “But the budget process is long, hard and drawn out especially when you’re a community that doesn’t have much money and no industrial tax base.”

“I think we all compromised,” he said. “I think it’s the best we could do at this point in time.”

Councilor Marlene Anctil thanked administration for all their hard work and “for bearing with us when we sent it back with a few amendments here and there.”

“I’m sure they did want to throttle us at times but we did make it through,” she said.
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Council was planning to adopt the budget before the New Year but were about three weeks late.

“We were pretty close,” said Councilor Doreen Glavin.

Council will need to pass a mill rate bylaw in April after they get the information from Alberta Education for the education requisition.

According to numbers supplied by the municipality, and assuming there is no increase in the Alberta School Foundation (ASFF), with municipal taxes at two per cent, a taxpayer that owns a home with an assessed value in the $200,000 range would pay a total municipal tax levy of $1841.64 in 2016. A taxpayer with a home assessed in the $350,000 range would pay $3222.87 while a taxpayer with a home assessed in the $600,000 range would pay $5524.92.
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February 3rd ~ Vol. 85 No. 5
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