Chestermere city council have begun the 2019 budget deliberations with some good news for residents.
The current proposed budget includes a 1.8 per cent decrease in taxes for 2019.
The proposed tax decrease comes from $1.185 million reduction in the city’s financial plan.
“I’m extremally pleased with the first view of the budget,” said Chestermere’s Mayor Marshall Chalmers.
He credits the hard work of city administration both in preparing the budget and the budget presentation for council.
“Last night you’ve seen the presentation of hundreds, hundreds, hundreds of hours of work internally,” said Chalmers.
“Our job now as council is to absorb what we’ve been presented, deliberate and…they’ve really given us a great start for sure,”
Chalmers said that with this budget, the city is tying in the budget with the level of service provided by the city.
“When we have discussions with the community, it should be about what level of service is it that you want,” he said.
Level of service was a significant part of the city’s budget engagement campaign over the summer which asked Chestermere residents, “how will you slice the [budget] pie.”
“We went to the community [and asked] what’s your thoughts,” said Chalmers.
While there were less responses to the survey than hoped for, decreasing the accuracy, residents generally said that they would like to see a decrease in all city departments except for emergency services, policing and enforcement.
Since the 2019 budget is the first one for the current city council, it also has been brought into alignment with council’s new strategic plan.
“This budget now reflects, very much reflects this new council’s strategic direction,” said Chalmers.
As council deliberates on the proposed budget, Chalmers said that they are mindful that many residents are still struggling in the current economic conditions.
“There’s indications…that we’re starting to come out of the bottom of the downturn,” he said.
“We recognize, and it was born out in the presentation, we’re a long ways from where we would like to be as far as, you know, a hot economy.
“That translates into people still…are struggling and we need to be mindful of that as we deliberate and try and do the best we can to ultimately provide a level of service the community wants but with the tax dollar in mind,” said Chalmers.
“We’re very aware things aren’t all roses yet and we’re going to be doing our best to reflect that in our decision making as we go through this process for sure,” he said.
Council’s task of deliberating on the budget was made easier by the way staff presented the budget Oct. 30.
“A great presentation…council was extremally pleased with the manner in which it was [presented],” said Chalmers.
“Great work and we’re now going to dig in and again being very…the economy isn’t where we need it to be yet,” he said.
Council will continue their deliberations on Nov. 5 starting at 5 p.m. in council chambers.
To view the budget presentation go to http://chestermere.ca/DocumentCenter/View/12933/FPLan-2019-2022—Capital-Operating-v2