Town proposes increase in utility rates and taxes

With more funding proposed for Heartland Youth Centre, physician recruitment and rental rates for recreation

With more funding proposed for Heartland Youth Centre, physician recruitment and rental rates for recreation, Town of Stettler residents can expect to pay a bit more for taxes and utilities.

At its regular meeting last week, town council approved a staff recommendation to increase water, sewer and residential garbage and recycling pick-up rates, as it adopted its 2013 interim operating budget, with $14,330,735 in expenditures.

While the town has forecast a three-per cent property tax hike for the next three years, staff and council also plan to increase fees for water in-town consumption to $2.52 per cubic metre, up 23 cents, a flat sewer rate increase to $18 per month, up by $1, identical to residential garbage pick-up and $6 per month recycling, up by $1.

“It’s a very responsible budget and will allow the town to provide a high level of services and facilities,” said Mayor Dick Richards, who echoed the words of Greg Switenky, the assistant chief administrative officer responsible for finances.

“The 2103-2015 interim operating budget enables council to sustain the current high level of public services, facilities and utilities for all Stettler residents, as well as continue to renew aging capital infrastructure and equipment on an affordability basis,” Switenky said.

Mayor Richards noted that water consumption is cost-recovery, expansion of the landfill is needed and he believes that increasing recycling services to businesses is a priority.

Those increases in taxes and fees are minimal and responsible, Switenky said.

“For a typical residential property assessed at $260,000, the annual increase is about $174, and subtract the levy for schools and seniors housing, which the town has no control over, that reduces municipal taxes and fees to about $130, just over $10 a month.”

“Town council and administration consider the property tax and utility rate increase estimates included in the interim budget necessary, given the present and future obligations required in our community,” Switenky said.

“The three-year forecast reflects council’s intent to be fiscally responsible and accountable to its residents.”

During its budget planning meeting Nov. 13, council set tentative priorities to allocate $40,000 annually to the Heartland Youth Centre and $25,000 to physician recruitment. The town also plans to continue to provide a 50 per cent subsidy to minor sports associations and youth clubs.

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