A three per cent tax increase adopted as part of Rocky View County’s (RVCs) 2024 budget on Nov. 29 means county residents will see their property taxes going up next year.
According to Kent Robinson, RVC’s executive director of corporate services, property values across the County vary so much that the impact to the average homeowner isn't reflective of most RVC residents.
The approved 2024 operating budget totals $234,093,700, while the approved 2024 capital budget totals $19,434,000.
Council made minor changes during budget deliberations, but the totals did not change much from administration’s draft budget, said Robinson.
Growth and inflationary costs increased the budget by $9.1 million, $6.5 million attributed to inflation and $2.6 million attributed to growth. At the same time $5.1 million in revenues were attributed to growth and inflation.
The three per cent tax increase amounts to $2.6 million, and together with the live growth amount of $2 million, which is a product of new construction in the county, this was used to balance the 2024 operating budget.
Of the $19.4 million in capital projects, $499,000 is tax-supported funding, while $3.9 million comes from the reserve and an additional $800,000 through special levy according to RVC’s budget documents. The remaining funds for capital projects come from federal and provincial grants.
The County prioritized external funding sources for eligible projects to minimize the impact on tax funding for capital, the budget states.
In the final special meeting to adopt the 2024 budget on Nov. 29, council made several amendments.
Two initial amendments included a base salary adjustment to deputy reeve’s position and a fund increase to the council initiative budget.
The adjustment to the deputy reeve’s base salary provides an increase of $14,700 as of organizational day in 2024, which places this salary at the midpoint between regular council members and the reeve.
Administration noted this was brought to their attention by council, but after a full review of all salaries, they found other municipalities provided the same midpoint remuneration.
RVC reeve, Crystal Kissel, felt this was fair as the deputy reeve often has to step in and take over responsibilities of the reeve.
Then, a total of $200,000 was added to the council initiative budget.
This budget can be used by council for special projects, reports, training, and so on.
Initially council discussed moving these funds from the CAO contracted services budget, but then switched their focus to the over $600,000 unallocated funds.
Future reports and information were requested on several projects in 2024, including;
- The pathway connections resulting from the SR1 construction;
- pedestrian access to the Bearspaw Reservoir due to the removal of stairs in North Springbank;
- the relocation of the Springbank Recycle Centre;
- a parking lot in Cambridge Estates as street parking is not allowed;
- recreational amenities in Prince of Peace village for seniors;
- and the completion of landscaping on Centre Street in Langdon.
Council moved to defer the Bearspaw Road 2025 project in the capital budget.
Coun. Samanntha Wright stated that the road is in good condition, but that the intersection of Bearspaw Road and Burma Road has seen a total of 17 collisions over the past two years, with another seven occurrences categorized as “other”.
She said instead of allocating $3.3 million to expand the road, the funds would be better spent on improving the intersection safety.
Administration was asked to explore a traffic circle at the intersection, and signals at the intersection of Lochend Road and Hwy. 1A were suggested.
Administration was also directed to revisit the Fire Services Master Plan in 2024, but another motion failed attempting to direct administration to implement capital and operating expenditures for fire services after the 2024 plan is to be approved.
Council brought up a discussion that was had in an earlier meeting to reduce or remove the Springbank recreation facility preliminary design.
The Langdon design, service, and development initial phase cost RVC $1.1 million, while Springbank’s facility and site design is also slated at $1.1 million.
Council did not make any changes but voiced their concerns about approving these funds without knowing a lot of the details around the facility, including the location.
Lastly, full cost recovery was established by council for utility customers, which will be applied over a three-year period.
Currently, some RVC utility systems are subsidized by property tax.
Eliminating this subsidy means municipal utility users will see an increase in their rates over the next three years.
Deputy Reeve Don Kochan noted the current subsidy adds up to $2 million by non-users of the utility. A report on the impact of this change will come forward in 2024.