Grande Prairie City Council wrapped up day two of 2024 budget deliberations, saving more than $2.35 million across throughout nearly eight hours of debate.
22 mitigation strategies were presented to council for consideration and council opted to approve eight, for a total of $1.11 million in potential savings in the Operational Services budget.
Mayor Jackie Clayton says council is taking every measure to lower a potential tax increase for residents; however, she says it is simply more expensive to provide services in 2023.
“Council has made it a priority to remain very cognisant of the impact that taxes have to an average resident, to every business, to every homeowner,” she says. “There is no intention for council to raise taxes arbitrarily.”
“We’re very proud of what our community offers on a day-to-day basis, and those services, and amenities come with a cost, and council will fight hard to keep those costs in check.”
Among the more expensive strategies, council managed to slash the city’s gravel maintenance budget in half for a one year term, saving roughly $112,000. It approved $758,000 in “staffing changes,” resulting in a less than 1% city staff reduction.
Numerous budget requests from day one of deliberations were considered again, resulting in the approval of a $100k transportation budget increase, a 16-hour public security unit patrol for $277k, a 5% budgetary increase in 2024 for the Grande Prairie public library, consideration for the construction of a new indoor recreation facility, and a 5-4 vote against a $93k increase for on-demand transportation.
Council ended the meeting in the middle of Capital Budget talks, with $1.25 million in savings currently.
Capital talks are scheduled to continue in the third and final 2024 budget deliberation meeting on November 17th.