January 18th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 3
Proposed municipal tax rate to increase by 2.93% in 2017
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Crowsnest Pass Naturally Rewarding
Pass Herald Reporter
There will be a 2.93 percent increase in the tax rate for 2017, should the budget draft be adopted in its current state.

On Dec. 12 and Dec. 21, Council considered and voted on a number of spending cuts to municipal projects for the 2017 budget with the hopes of attaining a 1.5 percent increase in the tax rate. CAO Lorrie O’Brien stated that Administration strived to reach council’s target, but came up short in finding a balance between cutting costs and continuing to provide the same level of service and efficiency.

There has been a 4 percent reduction in the overall budget from 2016. However, while the overall expenses have been reduced, revenues have also decreased and several large loan repayments commence in 2017. Consequently, the reduction in expenses has not gone down enough to correspond to revenue.

The proposed budget requirements for 2017 capital initiatives total $9.167 million. By comparison, the 2016 capital budget requirement was approximately $12 million.

The funds generated from taxes will go to a number of sources. A total of $672,000 will be invested in fleet upgrades/replacement for the Fire Department. An additional $2.3 million will be put into deep infrastructure replacement, which includes the Downtown Coleman Revitalization Project and pumphouse upgrades. An additional $6 million on top of that will go to phase three of the Frank Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade.
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The municipal office will see an investment of $75,000 for IT upgrades, and $30,000 will go to repairing the Bellevue Seniors’ Centre roof. Funding of $10,000 will go to Walking Trail Connection, while Crowsnest Pass Fire/Rescue will receive $110,000 for upgrades.

Although there has been a 4 percent reduction in the overall budget from 2016, loan repayment in 2017 totals approximately $6.4 million. Major payments include loans for the pool construction ($1.2 million), and Phase 1 ($1.7 million) and Phase 2 ($2 million) of the Frank Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades.

Major deferred projects include leaving the Albert Stella Memorial Arena operating “as is” into 2017 while ensuring the safest delivery and deferring the purchase and installation of water meters to 2018. The municipality also slashed funding for the River Run consolidation, moving the Bellevue seniors to MDM, and eliminated the mail courier for the municipality.
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After reviewing the capital budget projected costs, Mayor Painter expressed acceptance that a municipal tax rate of 1.5 percent was tough to meet. He noted that the municipality is investing in projects and thereby putting money back into the community.

In view of the proposed Dec. 21 budget, the Crowsnest pass mill rate would be 12.1 percent. Comparably, the average residential tax rate for neighboring communities is 8.99 percent, while the highest is 13 percent and the lowest is 7 percent.

Administration and Council will continue to work together to seek a lower proposed municipal tax rate.

Council will revisit the 2017 budget once the 2016 tax assessments are known for tax purposes. The 2017 property tax rate will also be set in the spring.
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January 18th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 3
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