Budget 2016: Investing in Peace River
A budget is a tool used by a municipality to guide spending but it also represents a Council’s vision and plans for the future.
The 2016 operating and capital budgets were created this year in a process that offered unprecedented opportunities for residents and businesses to have their voices heard and to contribute.
Putting Peace River to Work
The last year has been a tough one, for families, businesses and municipalities but it’s when times are tough that Government is expected to step up and attempt to break that cycle of recession.
One way we intend to help is by directing investing in the local economy. The budget contains more than 20 capital projects, which total more than $18 million. With the majority of the needed funds sourced from grants for projects based in the community, which would likely go to local companies, it increases the flow of capital into the region. That in turn provides increased job and economic prospects.
The capital projects include major renovations to our flood mitigation measures, necessary overhauls to aging infrastructure such as sewers and water mains, as well as community jewels like a new skate park, and improved recreation facilities. That means the capital money will not only help put Peace River to work, but ensure it stays there with increased flood protection, better sewers and water mains, as well as better parks and attractions that keep people in the community, and keep visitors coming back.
Our revenue comes from several places, such as grants, funds and reserves, however, the largest single source of revenue is tax money generated from property taxes.
With public money comes the need for public trust, public engagement – rate payers always expect that a municipality will use their money wisely, however, that expectation increases during times of economic stress.
To address those expectations, this year the Town initiated a budget process involving an unprecedented level of public engagement that included surveys, open houses, and online interaction. Council and Administration worked to explain the budget process to residents and to listen to concerns expressed by residents throughout this process. Additionally the budget was created using a style of budgeting called zero-based budgeting, a methodology that helps to dramatically cut back on financial inefficiencies in an organization by emphasizing cost management and accountability regarding ALL expenditures. [Learn More – about the budget process]
The graph above demonstrates where each cent of each dollar goes in the municipality operationally. It also shows how services are funded relative to other services. These services encompass everything a municipality does, from planning and development, bylaw and fire protection, to trails, parks and all stops in between. [Learn More about municipal services]
Highlights of the 2016 Operating & Capital Budgets
2016 Operating and Capital Budget Highlights
- Increased funding totalling almost $300,000 dedicated towards the new arena-multiplex project will result in a small mill rate increase this year; the balance of the operating budget experienced small increases compared to last year. For a home assessed at $281,000 a resident would expect to see an increase of $71 on their municipal tax bill.
- Town services and programs will remain at existing standards.
- Start of a multi-year initiative for water and waste water services to become a self-funded department. This will increase water rates by $.40 per cubic meter, an increase from $4.03 to $4.43. This amount is needed for operational and prior capital costs, along with future capital repairs and replacements.
- Provincial funding for Transit remains in the budget. A plan will be developed this year to determine the best model towards a feasible and effective system.
- Regional cooperation efforts in the areas of airport operations and recreational funding.
- A capital improvement plan of $18,648,389 to implement over 20 capital projects, with approximately three-quarters funded external sources. Upcoming capital projects include:
Parks & playground improvements totalling $347,235
• Neighbourhood renewal program totalling $2,799,146
• Water and wastewater projects totalling $9,028,742
• Public transportation initiatives totalling $591,962
• Airport runway improvements totalling $107,000
• Trail network extensions totalling $200,000
• Multiplex (pre-construction work) totalling $513,063