County of Stettler Feb. 10 regular council meeting. ECA Review/Screenshot
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Stettler county council passed their 2021 budget at the regular meeting Feb. 10, and it appears to include no tax increase to ratepayers.
The meeting was broadcast on the county’s YouTube channel to meet pandemic rules.
“The 2021 budget will be implemented upon council’s approval,” stated Director of Corporate Services, Christa Cornelssen in her report to council.
“We received public input from the budget survey and presented the budget for public comment in February.”
According to documents presented at the meeting, total tax revenue for 2021 is projected to be $17,451,374.
As a requirement from the Municipal Government Act, proposed budgets were also included up to 2024.
In a public presentation Feb. 2, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Yvette Cassidy stated the county’s budget process usually starts with councillors looking at strategic priorities while facing the reality the municipality needs $150,000 of new revenue to balance the budget.
“With no new revenue sources, this budget presents the need for $150,000 in new revenue, which we anticipate may be accumulated through growth in assessment or through other revenues like grant funding,” stated the Feb. 2 written report.
“We plan to maintain current levels of service throughout all operations with regional agreements including fire and emergency management being re-negotiated in 2021 to adjust current needs, expectations and to reflect actual costs of providing these services.”
During the presentation Cornelssen stated the budget is balanced and includes no tax increase from the County of Stettler.
Readers should note municipalities have no control over certain provincial taxes such as education requisition that could be hiked by the provincial government and that appear on a municipal tax bill.
Cornelssen stated property owners could in theory see an increase in their tax bill however, if their property increased in value.
Coun. James Nibourg pointed out to his peers that approving the budget is one thing, which lists county services and the tax money to pay for it, but councillors still have to set the mill rate in May.
Director of Municipal Services Andrew Brysiuk stated that at this point in the process it looks favourable to keep the tax rate increase at zero.
He noted that county staff, when developing the budget, felt that the need for increased revenue was anticipated to come from increased property values.
The budget passed by a 5 to 2 vote, with Coun. Dave Grover and Coun. Cheri Neitz opposed.