High River AB – With the challenges experienced by High River residents during the COVID-19 pandemic top of mind, High River Town Council approved the 2021 municipal budget, which will keep Town revenue at 2020 levels. The goal of the 2021 budget is to minimize financial impacts on residents in the coming year.
“Council is holding the line on taxes for 2021 to help ease the financial burden on residents. We hope that a revenue neutral budget with a 0% tax rate increase will be a buffer to help residents weather this storm,” said Mayor Craig Snodgrass. “By pulling together we hope to see High River get back on track to achieving our goals for a bright future.”
While Council is holding the line on operations and revenue, this does not mean all residents will pay the same taxes as in 2020. Overall, there is a 0% tax increase for the Town. When setting the tax rate, Council reviews the revenue needed to operate and considers the overall impact of property assessments in High River. A decrease in overall property values may result in an increase in taxes for some residents and a decrease for others.
Highlights of the 2021 budget include:
Total spending: $61,870,521
Capital Budget: $28,621,161
Projects approved as part of the Capital Budget will have a direct impact on quality of life for residents. Approval of this budget ensures the Town will have the financial means to continue to offer programs, services, and 2021 projects as outlined in our 10-year capital plan.
Some significant capital projects for 2021 include:
> Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades and Equipment
> BSRC Curling & Leisure Ice Surfaces Recreation Complex Roof (Phase 3)
> Sunshine Lake Gazebo Replacement
> Centre Street Bridget Rehabilitation Pedestrian Improvements
> 24th Street Top Lift
> Cemetery Ribbons
> Airport Taxi Way Enhancements
> Fire Hall Expansion
> Wayfinding Signage program
> Asset Management Program
Operating Budget: $33,249,360
The 2021 operating budget is a balanced budget as required by the Municipal Government Act. Total Revenue ($33,249,360 matches Total Expenses of $33,249,360). The budget was assembled using a revenue neutral approach with 2020 revenue as a base. A tax proposal is revenue neutral if it neither increases nor decreases revenue when compared the previous year.
> Revenue neutral
> No increase in utility rates
> A wage freeze (no Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) or Merit (STEP) increases)
> $755,200 in Community Group Funding
> $151,000 of New Initiatives
The following new initiatives were approved for 2021, for a total of $151,000:
> $21,000 for Firefighters Stand by pay
> $30,000 for Gauge Station Maintenance
> $100,000 for Asphalt Replacement Program
The complete approved Capital and Operating Budgets can be viewed on the Town Website.