The 2023-2025 budget presented by Administration at today’s special meeting, has been approved by Council. The second year of the four-year budget (2022-2025) is positioned to address inflation and economic pressures, maintain the high-quality of municipal services, while advancing health and safety in Okotoks.
“Year-two of the 2022-2025 budget provides a short-term path to navigate economic challenges, it highlights the importance of long-term planning, the need to be realistic about reliance on our current revenue sources, while considering and developing alternate financial revenue streams,” said Mayor Tanya Thorn. “Providing service delivery in an environment where cost escalation is impacting everything, will be a key component of our financial health strategies moving forward.”
The four-year budget, approved in December 2021, anticipated a 2% tax rate increase for 2023. However, 2022 has proven to be a very difficult year to navigate. Administration has had to take into consideration unprecedented levels of inflation, price escalation for the goods and services we receive, and competitiveness in the employee marketplace. Additionally, there have been post COVID-19 revenue recovery issues, pressure from the Province of Alberta as they continue to download service responsibilities to municipalities and uncertainty of long-term grant opportunities.
The Town is focusing on being ready for growth and preparing for the 2025 delivery of the regional supplemental water solution. Administration worked to align funding requests with strategic and operational priorities to allow for continued service delivery for the community and the advancement of Council’s priorities. In doing so, a tax rate increase of 4.5% was reached; this means that based on the assessment of an average home in Okotoks of $469,000, residents will see an increase of $9.38 per month or $112.56 per year.
“Through our commitment to optimizing the value of every dollar, we are able to advance Council’s strategic direction and improve the services that we have heard are important to residents while keeping our costs in line with population growth and inflation,” said Councillor Heemeryck, Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee. “We have undertaken a thoughtful analysis of many inputs, reviewed our resources collectively and distributed them to deliver the highest service value to the community.”
To focus on Council’s commitment of advancing the health and safety of the community, the approved budget includes a funding increase to accommodate 23 RCMP officers in 2023, 24 officers in 2024 and 25 officers in 2025 as well as a permanent deputy fire chief due to the increase in size of the firefighting force. The budget also proposes an increase in the base budget to support affordable housing and transit.
In order to further support and align with Council’s strategic priorities, the 2023 budget recommends the addition of 9.5 Town positions which will be staggered to reduce implications for the tax rate.
More highlights of the approved budget include:
- The budget is balanced, with overall revenues of $70.13M
- Expenditures of $66.963M, long-term debt repayment of $1.80M and net transfers to/from reserves and capital funds of $1.37M
- $0.48M new one-time operating expenditures for a total of $3.75M
- $10.16M new capital projects for a total of $28.07M