The numbers are crunched and the city is now projecting a possible 4.1 per cent tax decrease next year. Council was originally approached with a 3 per cent tax decrease but by the end of talks on Friday, Mayor Bill Given says they were able to get that number higher.
“Since the election, this council has been very focused on ensuring that we are offering good value for dollar… Our administration team was able to deliver a budget that proposed a 3 per cent reduction. Council took some additional steps… and was able to find some opportunity to reduce taxes even further.”
According to councillor Dylan Bressey, the decreases would apply to the amount people pay, not to the mill rate. That means that even if a someones property assessment goes up, they will see a tax decrease as long as it went up at the same rate as average properties in the same class.
Along with the tax decrease, council voted to keep the windrow cleaning program going, put $50,000 towards making city buildings accessible and have agreed to hire two new RCMP officers next year. Given says those decisions were made based on what he’s heard from community members.
“Council wanted to ensure that there was a really close alignment between the priorities we’re hearing from residents and the services that the city chooses to invest in. Obviously, community safety is always top of mind for us and that’s why we have the enhanced resources for the RCMP.”
While Council also decided to invest more money into road repairs, Given says they have decided to put the breaks on phase 4 of the downtown rehab project.
“The majority of council’s decision was to not move forward in 2019. That is a decision that can be revisited at any time and it seemed like there was an interest from a number of council members in seeking out alternatives.”
While budget talks are over, everything will still need to be approved at a future council meeting before it is official.