Drumheller town council approved the 2019 tax-supported operating budget at their meeting on Monday, finding approximately $407,000 in savings in the budget and a municipal property tax requisition increase of 1.9 per cent.
Ahead of budget talks late last year, council had directed administration to look at ways to reduce the budget by 5 per cent for 2019. Administration managed to cut 4.9 per cent through a combination of finding great efficiencies, contract negotiations, cuts to the Badlands Community Facility’s and outdoor pool’s operations (all opening up about $407,000 in funding), and an increase of 1.9 per cent of property tax requisition.
“Throughout the year, together, we will continue to look for ways to streamline our operations,” said Deputy Mayor Fred Makowecki. “At the same time, including as many new requests for funding we could afford including the Economic Task Force recommendation of a full time Economic Development Officer, we still had new spending requests in excess of $300,000. It is only through the efficiencies in operating found by administration the tax increase was kept to a minimum.”
The requisition, which will be $8,884,435 this year, equates to an additional $3 per month in property taxes for an average Drumheller household, Mayor Heather Colberg said at the meeting.
“This year we will see a reduced rural MSI (Municipal Sustainability Initiative) grant, an increase in energy costs, plus the carbon tax, all which are out of our control,” Colberg said in a release. “We are proud of the efforts of administration to lower our expenditures and fund programs within our budget.”
The Badlands Community Facility will be closed on six additional holidays (Good Friday, Easter Monday, Victoria Day, Heritage Day, Labour Day, and Thanksgiving), and operating hours will be reduced by closing one hour earlier each day. The operating season of the outdoor pool will also be reduced, to be open from the last week of June to Labour Day. These cuts reflect close to $30,000 in savings.
These changes were made after finding the usage of the facilities was quite low late in the evening and on stat holidays.