By Jeremy Appel
Redcliff property taxes going up 2.49%
Redcliff town council passed its 2018 interim budget, which includes a 2.49 per cent property tax increase, at its Nov. 27 meeting.
The tax hike is composed of a 1.83 per cent residential increase and a 0.66 per cent greenhouse building assessment increase.
Mayor Dwight Kilpatrick said the interim budget is intended to establish spending parameters for administration before the final budget is released in April, which will include the additional cost of the provincial school tax requisition.
“Until the province gives us their numbers, we can’t truly strike the budget,” he said. “We can only have an interim operating budget, so our town managers know their individual budget and can operate within them.”
Kilpatrick said the budget is mostly status quo, with the exception of two sewage reduction projects, one of which was approved in last year’s budget but was held over because the town needed to purchase some land.
The interim budget earmarks $428,816 for storm sewer and drainage, compared with $390,950 last year. Of the $390,950, only $69,923 was spent.
“Those are probably our two biggest capital projects,” he said. “Other than that, I would say a lot of it is just trying to be sustainable — our road maintenance program, sidewalk maintenance program — just your standard, typical boring municipal projects.
“You’ve got to do those too, even if they’re not exciting.”
User fees, water and sewage rate increases approved
Council also passed all three readings of bylaw adjustments to increase water and sewage rates, as well as user fees, all of which are closely related to the budget process.
Residential sewage rates are increasing to $34.55 from $30.97 per month and $69.10 from $61.94 bimonthly.
Residential water rates are increasing to $41.35 from $39.31 monthly and $82.70 from $78.62 bi-monthly, while greenhouse rates are going up to $191.85 from $178.61 monthly and $383.70 from $357.22 bi-monthly.
The cost of youth ice rentals is increasing to $87 per hour from $82 per hour, while adult rentals are going up to $135 per hour from $125 per hour.
The price of Meals on Wheels is increasing to $6.50 from $5.50 per meal.
Kilpatrick said increasing fees and rates is always a difficult balancing act.
“When it comes to the arena, we use a heck of a pile of electricity to make ice and maintain ice, staff wages and all that other kind of stuff that go into the operation of the arena. We look at what we’re charging per hour,” said Kilpatrick. “We look at what our future expenses are going to be and so we have to look at what we have to bring in through revenues to offset those expenditures.
“Whatever we don’t bring in in fees, we’re going to have to bring in in taxes, so it’s always a balance act in what we have to do.”
Pot dispensaries rejected for now
Administration wants further information on the province’s legal marijuana regulations before it approves two marijuana dispensaries in town.
Kilpatrick said it would be unfair to tentatively approve the proposals before the regulations are more firmly in place.
“The problem with approving something today when there’s nothing in place is down the road if something becomes restricted you can’t enforce that,” he said.
“To approve something today and then try to retract or add to it tomorrow becomes burdensome … If you have the proper framework in place when you approve it, you should be problem-free.”
Kilpatrick said he hopes to return to the issue in the new year as more information becomes available.
The federal deadline for legalizing marijuana is July 1, 2018.
“It’s something that definitely has to be put on the agenda early in the year,” he said.
“We can’t wait until August. We really have to have something in place early enough so that things can move forward.”