Interim budget predicts four per cent property tax increase

Written by Stu Salkeld

Stettler town council’s approval of an interim 2023 operating budget likely suggests local property owners will pay a four per cent increase on their taxes, while most utilities will also increase by a modest amount. The resolutions were passed at the Dec. 20 regular meeting of council.

The interim budget, which is mandated by the provincial government to be in place by Dec. 31, was presented by Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Greg Switenky.

The interim budget projects, according to Switenky’s memo, “…expenditures totalling $19,481,076; revenues totalling $20,138,914 and amount available for capital of $657,838 for the year 2023 as an interim operating budget.”

Switenky pointed out the interim budget remains in place until the full budget is approved in the spring, which also has things like the provincial education tax added.

When describing Stettler town council’s budget deliberations, the CAO used the word “responsible.”

The CAO stated the Town of Stettler hasn’t increased property taxes in three years, nor have they increased utility rates in two years, so deliberations to keep any increase as low as possible were serious.

“Council was faced with challenges coming out of the COVID pandemic,” said Switenky, adding that this interim budget begins a plan to get the Town of Stettler into a more sustainable financial position and that plan will likely take a few years.

He noted that the interim budget projects a four per cent property tax increase; as well, the interim budget calls for increases to water, sewer, garbage and recycling rates.

In Switenky’s memo accompanying the interim budget it was stated water rates will increase by $0.0777 per cubic metre or about $2.90 per month, sewer rates will increase by 25 cents per month to roughly $23, garbage rates will increase by 50 cents per month to $24.25 and the recycling rate will increase by 25 cents per month to a charge of $6.75. The staff memo noted, on average, a typical residential taxpayer will see a 3.2 per cent increase to their taxes and utilities from this interim budget.

“Administration considers a four per cent property tax increase, $0.0777 town water and $0.25 sewer, $0.50 waste and $0.25 recycling rate increases included in the 2023 interim operating budget necessary given the ongoing current economic conditions and future obligations required in our community as we move forward from COVID and the past three years of zero per cent increases,” stated the memo.

Mayor Sean Nolls commended the town staff for developing an interim budget that was relatively easy to understand, even for the average person, with Switenky adding that the entire interim budget is available online on the town’s website within the Dec. 20 agenda package.

“It’s transparent,” said Nolls, referring to the budget’s presentation.

Councillors unanimously approved the 2023 to 2025 interim operating budget as it was presented.

RCMP adjustment
At the beginning of the council meeting councillors were introduced to S/Sgt. Jon England, who stated he is now the interim commander of the Stettler RCMP detachment. England noted he’s served in detachments in Cardston and Red Deer.

It was stated at the meeting that England will handle the Stettler detachment on a temporary basis while commander S/Sgt. Bruce Holliday is off duty.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.