After thirteen hours of public budget presentations and deliberations, City Officials have concluded budget presentation meetings.
“Budget is always a stressful time as Council and Administration look to provide the most services and amenities for the least amount of tax impact on residents,” said Mayor Patricia Matthews. “We only control the municipal portion of taxes but we are aware that residents also have to pay the hefty provincial education tax piece at the same time. So we debate everything, including the projects funded by grants, to make sure it's all considered in the big picture.”
Budget meetings began on Tuesday, November 8 with Administration’s overview of the budget process. Following this presentation, the Directors of Protective Services, Community Services, Corporate Services and Development & Infrastructure Services presented their operating and capital budget proposals.
“We are proud to be one of the most efficiently run mid-sized municipalities in the province,” said Dr. Randy Patrick, Chief Administrative Officer of the City of Chestermere. “Building on last year’s cost reduction efforts, we worked hard to present a budget that continues to provide high levels of service for residents’ tax dollars.”
Patrick explained that staff worked hard to reduce tax impacts by delaying or eliminating projects, not adding any new staff positions for two years, pausing additional contributions to reserves for two years and searching for alternative sources of funding. However, the budget still allows for the continuation of quality municipal services and the completion of existing projects that will prepare the City for future growth.
In addition to Administration’s pared down budget proposal, Council thoroughly scrutinized all requests and is considering additional cuts at the formal budget presentation. Some examples of items that may still be debated include pathway upgrades, an off leash space and flood control measures.
Equipped with feedback from Council, Administration will now prepare a formal preliminary budget to present at an upcoming Council meeting. As advertised for the past several weeks, Staff and Council continue to encourage residents to provide their feedback online and to Councillors.
“We have been seeking resident input throughout the entire budget process and we sincerely appreciate the time residents are taking to learn about this process,” said Mayor Matthews. “Our door is always open and we’d love to hear your input.”
Budget meetings were held on November 8 from 8-3 and November 9 from 12-3 and 5-9. Additional budget information and online feedback forms are available at www.chestermere.ca/budget.