A budget is a municipality’s operating guidebook, allocating how resources are used to provide services throughout the year. During the January 9, 2017, regular meeting of Town Council, the 2017 Municipal Operating, and Capital Budget was adopted by Council. Below you will find details on how the budget is assembled, how your tax dollars are used, and how that impacts you.
A message from the Mayor
As part of this Council’s commitment to providing a responsible, open and accountable municipal government, we are pleased to provide our citizens with a budget document that is understandable. Generally, municipal budgets are a series of line items with a very short, inscrutable title and a set of numbers, but not much else. This budget document is different; it provides meaning and context for those numbers.
In addition to improving public access to budget information, Council hopes that this document will encourage citizens to learn more about their municipal budget and, in turn, act as a springboard for more public participation in budget development.
To help put municipal budgets in perspective, it is instructive to look at how much the average Alberta household spends its income on municipal taxes, see the graphic in the upper right-hand corner. Only about 2.4% goes towards municipal taxes. Put another way, only 10 cents out of every tax dollar goes to municipalities.
Yet municipalities, like the Town of Peace River, are expected to and do provide the frontline services that Canadians depend on a daily – like roads, parks, trails, rinks, pools, museum and library services, street lighting, garbage pickup, sewer, water, etc. It is reasonable to argue that of the 3 levels of government, the municipal level is the most important.
The financing challenge is that municipal governments having no standing constitutionally, are creatures of the provincial government, and they have limited means to raise monies – property taxes and user fees.
Much of the capital funding is provided through funding grants and special applications to the federal and provincial governments. Despite the fact that this is your money, these senior levels of government do not always say yes and oftentimes the process is akin to the boy in the Dickens story pleading for ‘more’. Admittedly, in recent years, the provincial and federal governments have been much more forthcoming.
In closing, I trust that citizens will find that the 2017 edition of the Town of Peace River budget balances Council’s duty to be fiscally responsible with the needs and wants of our community.
Thomas Tarpey, Mayor of the Town of Peace River
Council provided staff with their guidelines and criteria for the 2017 Budget, which include:
- keep tax rates competitive
- maintain existing service level standards
- include a proactive infrastructure funding plan into the base budget
- mitigate negative future budget changes, and
- include the funding for the current year capital plan and present the five-year capital forecast.
Public Council meetings including budget deliberations were held:
- November 14th, 21st and 28th,
- December 5th, 12th and 13th.
The 2017 Budget maintains tax requisitions required from ratepayers – $10.64 million – are approximately the same as required in 2016.
This means that your 2017 tax bill should be about the same as your 2016 bill.
Along with maintaining existing service level and standards, new initiatives or enhancements were also approved by Council:
- an additional $250,000 in capital funding for the new rec-plex;
- discontinuation of the photo radar program;
- a Peace Officer position;
- $55,000 for downtown beautification;
- funding to the local library, $12,700 to allow for free memberships;
- additional funds for pavement crack sealing, $55,800;
- Canada Day 150 celebrations, $12,000;
- Town Hall maintenance, $10,000;
- Mighty Peace Tourism Association funding, $1,700
What do you get?
Everything from snow clearing, water treatment, summer day camps for children and the costs of an election are funded through the operating budget. That includes groups like Parent Link, the Peace River Municipal Library, the RCMP, the Fire Department, the Pool, the Museum and more such as:
- solid waste management – garbage pick-up & recycling
- public protection and safety – policing, fire services and emergency management
- road maintenance including paving and snow removal
- solid waste management – garbage pick-up and recycling
- planning and development services
- recreation facilities and programs
- community programs and seniors support
- cultural events, museums and libraries
- parks and trails
- economic development
How will this impact you?
As mentioned before, 2017 tax bills should be the same as 2016; this is predicated on the town requiring the same tax revenue as last year. However, individual properties may see differences depending on their assessment value changes in relation to changes in tax rates.
Tax, or mill, rates are inversely related to assessments – as assessed values go down tax rates must increase to achieve the same revenues and vice versa. Since we expect assessed values to decrease in 2017, the tax rate will have to increase.
During their deliberations, Council focused on maintaining the same tax revenue amount as was requisitioned in 2016, which they achieved, as these are required for the continued operations and capital funding of the town.
The net impact is that across Peace River all properties will pay the same in taxes – $10.64 million – as they did in 2016. Individually, some properties may pay more while others pay less – this really depends on assessment changes relative to tax rate changes.
If you have any questions about the budget or taxes, please contact the town hall at (780) 624-2574.
The Capital Budget
The 2017 Capital program (proposed at this point, pending final approval) includes 35 projects totalling $21.6 million. Of this amount, $8.4 million if funded via town controlled funds while $13.2 million is funded from other external sources. As presented, the 2017 Capital Budget (and total five-year capital plan) can be accomplished without negatively impacting existing tax rates.
2017 Capital Budget
|Total Information Systems||$122,000|
|Respiratory Prot. Equipment Fit Tester||$12,100|
|SCBA and HAZMAT Suit Tester||$11,600|
|Structural Firefighting PPE Dryer||$9,400|
|Fire Truck Scene Lights||$9,700|
|Total Fire Protection||$42,800|
|Neighbourhood Inf. Program - 2016||$2,100,000|
|Neighbourhood Inf. Program||$350,000|
|Pavement Replacement Project||$350,000|
|Facility Alarm Systems||$120,000|
|99th Street Slide||$2,057,000|
|Pat's Creek - Phase II||$2,208,300|
|Total Works & Equipment||$7,185,300|
|Material/Liquid Chemical Spreader||$98,300|
|Airport Wildlife Fence||$244,400|
|TP312 5th Edition Update||$10,000|
|Peace Regional Recreation Centre||$8,200,000|
|North End Stairs||$11,000|
|Flail Cutter - Tool Kat||$12,000|
|12 Foot Davis Events Park||$10,000|
|Shaftsbury Trail - Pedestrian Pathway||$225,000|
|Tennis Courts - Lower West Peace||$191,700|
|Ski Hill Chairlift||$155,000|
|Total Recreation & Cultural||$8,833,200|
|Water Treatment Plant Equipment||$550,000|
|Wastewater Trmt. Plant Equipment||$570,000|
|Res. 365 Decommissioning/Replacement||$892,600|
|Reservoir 475 Power/VFD/Programming||$291,000|
|Weberville Sewage Lagoon Upgrade||$328,900|
|Sanitary Sewer Trunk Main (Saddleback)||$1,800,000|
|Facility Alarm Systems||$80,100|
|Total Water & Wastewater||$4,622,600|