At this point, Grande Prairie property owners could see their 2021 taxes stay the same or go up by as much as 2.5 per cent. Grande Prairie city council has tasked administration staff to begin crafting a budget within that range.
Mayor Bill Given says at this stage of the process, the decision is really just a way to guide staff on the range of possibilities that council is willing to consider.
“Administration will take this information as they go through and look at the operational side, and capital budget for 2021 and start to build some scenarios for council to consider this year.”
Given says council always tends to want a wide-ranging number of options, especially when it comes to the priority of different services, and, with it, a relative willingness to see increases or decreases in terms of property taxes.
“I think we need to recognize there will likely continue to be inflation that will apply to the city’s operations, and so anything below the rate of inflation is effectively a cut,” he explains. “It’s up to council in the fall to decide whether the range of services the city provides is important to the community or not.”
One recent change to services came in the form of cuts to Grande Prairie Transit service in 2020. As part of its search for $6 million in cuts, council approved a $500,000 adjustment to transit services, which lead to fewer routes, and the elimination of express routes to both the Grande Prairie Composite High School and St. Joseph’s High Catholic High School.
Given says, at the end of the day, if public consultation shows members of council that a service is not deemed important or valuable to the community, then they city has the option of cutting delivery. Council will have full budget deliberations in the fall before any decisions are finalized.