Town of Stettler starts months-long budget process

One of the few reminders that it is December that doesn't involve the Christmas season is the municipal budget.

One of the few reminders that it is December that doesn’t involve the Christmas season is the municipal budget.

Town staff and council met last week on Monday, Nov. 28 to start going over the possibilities for budget, listening to the different members of staff make their recommendations before making initial choices.

Even though a final operating budget and the resultant tax rates won’t be final until late spring, in order for the Town of Stettler to function as of Jan. 1, 2017, an interim budget has to be approved. The interim budget is also required under the Municipal Government Act.

“By the time we get all our provincial grants in, it’s usually about May,” Town of Stettler Assistant CAO Steve Gerlitz said. It’s not feasible for the town to not bill people for garbage, recycling, water and wastewater until that budget is set, however.

Recommendations will be presented at the Tuesday, Dec. 6 meeting, where council will vote to approve or not approve the interim budget.

Under the proposed 2017-2019 budget, there would be a two per cent municipal tax increase, a water rate increase of five cents, a sewer rate increase of 50 cents, a garbage rate increase of 50 cents, and a recycling rate increase of 25 cents.

According to CAO Greg Switenky, the numbers add up to roughly $60 more a year for a town property owner in a property assessed at $250,000. Assessments lower and higher would see a lower and higher increase respectively.

Gerlitz said that there usually is not “much change” between the interim budget and the actual budget, with the changes involving the few items that are given to the town late such as the grants and school taxes. The overall tax bill includes some rates that are outside of the town’s control, such as housing and school taxes. Those numbers also need to be prepared and given to council before a final budget, and tax rate, can be set.

Bylaws approving the garbage, recycling, and water/wastewater billing changes will be presented to council on Dec. 6 as well.