By Tim Kalinowski
Redcliff released its 2017 budget at last Monday’s council meeting. The budget is a balanced one, but without a lot of pain attached to it. Redcliff residents will see very few hikes in taxes or fees this year, and there will be some modest infrastructure spending within the community depending on the availability of matching grants.
Property taxes will increase by 2.25 per cent. This roughly represents the cost of inflation, and is also seen a move to head off unaccounted for costs next year like the provincial carbon tax set to take effect in January.
There will, however, be some more substantial hikes in the town’s recreation fees. There will also be a significant increase in fees for industrial trash acceptance at the town’s waste management facility.
On the recreation side of things, the swimming pool will take the largest hit. The price of day passes, five packs and season passes at the swimming pool will all be going up in 2017. A family day pass, for example, will go up by $1 to $14, a family five pack will go up by $4 to $56, and a family season pass will go up by $5 to $155. Kids swimming lessons will also be going up by $5.
Ice rentals will be going go up at the Rec-Tangle. Youth 17 and under will go up $10/hour to a total of $80/hour. Adult non-prime time will remain unchanged, but prime and weekends will rise by $5/hour to $120/hour.
On the waste management side of things, landfill fees will rise in every category except the basic charge of $8 for waste under 250 kg. The biggest hit will be to contract haulers. Semi-trailers will now pay $600, an increase of $100. Front end dumps will go from $200 to $300. Roll off containers from $100 to $200
Some of the expenditures of note in this year’s budget are the town’s investment of $74,000 to establish and buy software for a “Virtual City Hall.” The new online program will allow Redcliff residents to access all the services and long-term records online they currently have to seek out in person at Town Hall.
There is also about $3,100,000 earmarked for infrastructure projects and another $537,000 earmarked for community service projects; again all depending on the availability of matching grants. Key infrastructure projects will be Riverview Phase 1 road rehabilitation, the Dirkson Industrial Storm Pond expansion, outfall and coulee restoration for the golf course, and the placing of the community’s final new lift stations on 4 Street NW and 3 Street NW.
Key community projects will be the Rec-Tangle Rehab Phase 1, which will be paid for by a Canada 150 grant, and the Splash Park rehabilitation project.
Arlos Crofts, municipal manager for the town, said council was deeply aware of the difficult economic circumstances facing its residents at this time.
“The budget moving into 2017 looks relatively static about the amount of funds which will be collected through property taxation. And when it comes to utility rates those will also remain static so there is no expected increase in terms of rates. Council was definitely cognizant of the times, and the people out there who are struggling with them,” said Crofts.