By Tim Kalinowski
Redcliff residents will see a three per cent general tax increase this year and fee hikes in water, sewage and garbage disposal in order to balance the community’s budget and build up major infrastructure replacement reserves. The measures were passed at last Monday’s budget vote, and will come into effect for 2016.
On the taxes side of things, two per cent of that increase will be applied directly to the town’s reserve funds. One per cent will be applied to the Town’s operating budget.
Arlos Crofts, municipal manager for Redcliff, said the portion of the tax increase going into reserves is intended to mitigate future costs as Redcliff tightens its belt to weather the next few years of economic uncertainty.
“The two per cent would be for a Sustainabilty Infrastructure (reserve) increase. That two per cent increase is being put away for future capital infrastructure projects,” explained Crofts.
On the fees side of things, (on top of the hikes for nearly all community services previously announced at the Nov. 23 meeting), residential and non-residential dwellings in Redcliff will pay on average between 10-15 per cent more for water and sewer on monthly fees in 2016. Bi-monthly fees will go up at an even greater rate on the sewer side of things with a jump from $74.70 to $83.24.
Garbage disposal will also see about a 10 per cent fee jump on average for both the residential and non-residential dwellings.
Mayor Ernie Reimer said after the Dec. 14 council meeting he and his fellow councillors have tried to do the best they could to balance the long term revenue needs of the community with consideration for local residents and businesses which might be going through tough economic times this year.
“I think we did a fairly good job on the budget process this year,” said Reimer. “There were concerns, of course. We need to add fees to the services that the town supplies because the cost of replacing these things in the future is going to be astronomical. So that’s the reason for most of the increases in the fees for services that we provide for the community.”
Council voted unanimously for the increases. Mayor Reimer said council was definitely of one mind on what needed to be done.
“We all pretty much knew what the situation coming in (to the budget consultation process). None of us had any opposition to what we needed to do, and council was unanimous on the way we thought about this. To Redcliff residents, we ask them to bear with us. It’s unfortunate we have to have these increases. It’s something we have to do. We have to look at the future to supply our folks with the upgraded facilities and infrastructure that we have in place and the ones we need to replace. I know economic times right now are not that great, but we have to make some tough decisions,” Reimer said.