High River, AB – Monday, Council approved the 2019 operating and capital budget for the Town of High River.
“It’s been a particularly challenging discussion this year,” says Craig Snodgrass, Mayor of High River. “We need to upgrade our aquatics facility and fire hall as well as build a new waste water treatment plant. And, to pay for all of this aging infrastructure, we needed to figure out how to save more money and put it into our reserves for the future.”
Through deliberations, Council decided on an overall residential property tax increase of 4.6 per cent, with one per cent going into the community infrastructure re-investment reserve fund, another one per cent going into an aquatics pool reserve fund, and two per cent being put towards utility infrastructure reserves. The remaining 0.6 per cent accounts for annual inflation.
“It’s what we have to do to ensure High River continues to be a desirable place for our future generations to live a high quality and fulfilling life,” says Snodgrass.
The total monthly impact to a typical household averages around $11.64 per month. For commercial properties, the tax increase works out to be $51.77 per month.
The approved 2019 budget includes an operating budget of $32.9 million and a capital budget of $11.7 million. Within the operating budget, things like staff salaries, wages and benefits, electricity and gas for Town facilities, supplies, fuel, and insurance, are paid for.
The capital budget focuses on building and maintaining Town facilities and infrastructure. Over the next 10 years, the Town’s capital spending is projected to be $96.3 million. This includes major projects such as an upgraded aquatics facility, upgraded fire hall, implementation of broadband services, a new waste water treatment plant, fleet replacements, roads, and infrastructure life cycling, to name a few.
The third component of a budget is utilities. Utility services include water, waste water and storm water, waste and recycling and environmental services, which are provided to High River residents and businesses and are billed bi-monthly.
Every year, Town administration prepares a budget to align with Council’s strategy priorities and business plan goals. During deliberations, Council ensures that what is being proposed by administration achieves a balanced budget, as directed by provincial legislation.
“This year, our budget reflects how we are setting the organization and community up for the next 10, 20, even 30 years,” says Tom Maier, Town Manager. “We don’t want a future Council to have to dive deep into their pockets because we didn’t think ahead or plan for it like we are today.”
For more information, please visit highriver.ca.