County of Grande Prairie property owners may not see any change to their tax rates next year. Councillors have approved an interim budget for 2021 that leaves rates where they were for 2020.
County council met over the past two days to debate how to balance the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the current economy with the need to keep up essential services and programs and be proactive when it comes to infrastructure and quality of life. Reeve Leanne Beaupre says that was done by leaving some capital projects to the future, cutting costs, and using reserves, grants, and the projected surplus for the year.
“Supporting our residents, especially during this difficult time, is our top priority. The interim budget strikes a balance between holding the line on our tax rates to help our community and maintaining service levels and investment in critical projects and programs.”
In total, the budget for the year runs $138.1 million, with operations projected to cost $77.7 million and capital projects $60.4 million. The budget and tax rates will be finalized in the spring once the province’s education levy is set and property assessment values are confirmed.
As usual, a large part of the County’s capital budget, pegged at $27.4 million or around 45 per cent, is going towards road and bridge projects. Among them is $2 million to share the cost of repaving Highway 724 with the province and $3.33 million to share the cost of the Highway 40 twinning and bridge project with the province and the Municipal District of Greenview.
Other major capital projects include $4.7 million to build a landfill cell at the Clairmont Centre for Recycling & Waste Management, as well as another $1 million for a leachate pond at that location. One million dollars has also been earmarked for the next phase of work on the La Glace Community Water System, as well as $200,000 for a new fire training centre at the Dunes Fire Hall.
On the operating side of things, $6 million is tagged for grants for organizations across the county, as well as to neighbouring communities. Councillors have also approved an additional $973,000 to help with the operations of Evergreen Park during the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing the total amount committed to $1.4 million.
Residents will likely see some fees and rates change next year. Curbside waste and recycling collection will cost 25 cents more per payment, with the waste fee moving to $9.75 bi-monthly, and recycling to $5. A new utility fee of $42.45 bi-monthly for commercial properties and $14.15 bi-monthly for residential properties will be introduced in the Hamlet of La Glace.
NOTE: A previous version of this article included changes to the Schedule of Fees and Rates that were based on an error.