Three per cent tax increase in interim budget

by Bryan Passifiume
ECA Review Reporter

Stettler Town Council was presented an interim operating budget for 2013 during their regular council meeting on Tuesday, November 20.
The interim budget, meant to keep the town operating until the 2013 budget is ratified in April, contains a projected three per cent property tax increase. This increase is expected to remain constant through 2015.
“It’s a very responsible budget,” said Stettler Mayor Dick Richards. “It will allow administration to provide a high level of service to the community.”
The interim budget includes an increase to sewer and water rates, increases that Mayor Richards calls “defendable.”

In-town water consumption will increase 23 cents to $2.52 per cubic meter, while flat water fees will remain unchanged at $10 per month. The monthly flat sewage fee and residential garbage pickup will both increase by one dollar to $18 per month and residential recycling pickup increases by a dollar to $6 per month.
Council was presented the 2011 Financial Indicator Graphs, which show how the town stands financially.
Presented to council by Chief Administrative Office Robert Stoutenberg, the graphs show a town on healthy ground.
Stettler is below the provincial average for their net municipal equalized tax rate, which CAO Stoutenberg said was a “good measure of efficiency.” Stettler’s rate is 6.3 per cent, while the provincial average is 7.4 per cent.
Other numbers include tax collection rates (97.9 per cent, .8 per cent above the provincial average), per cent of debt limit used (43.3 per cent, matching the provincial average) and total revenue sources from grants ($671,000, also matching the provincial average).

The Stettler Town & Country Museum presented their annual budget to council for approval. The museum, as with previous years, is asking for a $2000 increase in funding from the town.
“They run it very tight,” said Councillor Steven Wildeboer. “They do a good job at funding themselves.”
The museum, a functioning ‘pioneer village’ featuring nine historic buildings, holds several fundraisers to keep the museum operating. Major projects undertaken during 2012 included replacing windows in the CN railway station and new roofs for three other buildings, including the church and school house.

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