The Town of Blackfalds approved the 2021 Operating Budget at council on Dec. 8.
The budget preparation process began in early fall of this year and included public engagement through the online citizen budget tool. This online resource allows residents to adjust operation rates and provide feedback to council members on the proposed budget.
Director of Corporate Services for the Town of Blackfalds Justin De Bresser said there wasn’t as much feedback as he would have liked but there was enough for council to take into consideration.
Along with public engagement, council also went through several budget presentations, workshops and discussions to ensure the budget was properly vetted.
“The approval of the budget was the conclusion of a process that lasted several months, during which all councillors had the opportunity to provide input and bring forward changes that they would like to see incorporated,” added Mayor Richard Poole. “Last night’s presentation provided an accurate summary of this process and I feel council made the correct and responsible choice by passing this budget.”
The approved budget of just over $28.5 million includes a proposed 1.5 per cent property tax increase for homeowners.
Blackfalds has a three-year plan for their operating budget and in line with that, there should have been a two per cent increase in 2021. However, De Bresser said the council worked hard to minimize the impact on Blackfalds residents and kept the increase within the provincial Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate for September 2020.
“There’s a myriad of things that were increased and decrease … we’re pretty happy we could bring it down to 1.5 per cent,” said De Bresser.
According to the town, this increase translates to an average house valued at $286,000 seeing a $35 per year increase. This excludes the Alberta School Foundation Fund which is a portion of taxes imposed by the Provincial Government that goes towards paying for education taxes in Alberta.
The approved tax increase will allow the town to fund certain services and create jobs such as hiring another RCMP officer.
“One good news things is, yes ok we have a small tax increase, but we are getting more police presence in the town,” said De Bresser.
The budget was built with the predcition that operating costs would resume to their pre-COVID-19 levels however, if the pandemic continue council will adjust the rates accourdingly.
Council is scheduled to re-vist the budget in spring 2021 and expects to have the tax rate approved by the end of April.