Grande Prairie property owners can expect a 3.28 per cent residential property tax increase as the 2024 municipal budget was tentatively approved on Friday.
Some of the largest investments from the city include $16.8 million for infrastructure like roads and bridges, including scheduled projects set to begin in the 2024 construction season. Mayor Jackie Clayton says, in addition to the road work in the heart of the municipality, a $20 million funding pledge from the province will also be allocated for work on the Highway 43X bypass.
“Some of the work will continue again this summer as it was earmarked from last year. However, a shifting of a significant portion of it which is just west of the city will be put forward to another year, in anticipation of a few things.”
“I think the community will recognize that a significant amount of work has been done in the past couple of years on that bypass,” she adds. “We always expect to see growth in our region, but as well in negotiations with the province in regards to LGFF funding, there is potentially an increase there.”
Councillors also discussed numerous budgeting options and cuts to try to lower the possible tax increase while trying to keep an eye on future needs. Clayton says this applies for items like the $500,000 funding boost for the Maskwa Medical Centre through council’s Strategic Initiatives Fund.
“Many people, including most of council, don’t have family doctors,” she says. “On a regular basis, we hear from our community the dire need for enhanced healthcare services and more healthcare professionals and doctors.”
Clayton adds that the Maskwa organization hopes to work with the province and is currently exploring options with Northwestern Polytechnic and the University of Alberta to find solutions for physician training and modified medical services for residents.
“What it could look like in a medical assessment where you have a different assessment than you’re used to where you go to a general practitioner, you would go to a team of physicians that would analyze and assess your needs based on your ailment. I’m optimistic our two municipal partners will continue to fund this as we look for the engineering, designs, and estimates to be completed.”
At the start of budget deliberations, administration had suggested a potential 6.09 per cent tax increase, but over three days of debate and discussion, that was eventually cut down to the proposed 3.28 percent jump. The 2024 budget will be ratified during the November 27, 2023 Grande Prairie city council meeting.