Against City administration’s recommendation, Airdrie council approved a 1.51 per cent tax increase. I believe this increase is shortsighted and does not provide a base for funding a growing city.
Although immediate and short-term needs will be met, the low increase means funds for other pending projects – like the new library, fire station and recreation centre – may be at risk.
The only good thing about the small increase is that it gives temporary relief to the homeowners who may be struggling in these tough economic times. I say temporary because these projects are necessary and, in the future, will likely result in double-digit tax increases to make up for council’s shortsightedness.
This is not a secret as it was mentioned in the 2020-2022 Proposed Operating Budget Plan (page 21): “Revenue sources are not sufficient to cover the cost of operations. Budget processes for the next two years will need to increase taxes or user fees or align services to address the gap.” That “gap” amounts to a projected shortfall of $10.9 million in 2021 and increases to $14.7 million in 2022.
And then there’s the Blue Zone project. This is not listed as a council priority, yet it has been allotted $1.8 million over the next three years. I am in favour of the project, but I would like to see a detailed accounting of where the monies are being spent and, perhaps, a delay in implementation.
This budget may be appropriate for today, but ensures higher tax increases in the future as it does not allow for much-needed infrastructure growth.