CANMORE – Canmore council had high praises for its administration and the process to reach a final 2019-20 operating and capital budgets for approval on Tuesday night (Dec. 18) as they voted unanimously to approve both.
The final budgets included a 4.9 per cent increase in municipal property taxes in 2019 to add $1.13 million to the $53 million operating budget and 4.6 per cent in 2020 to add $1.12 million to the $55.2 million operating budget.
Council deliberated on the budget for 18 hours over six meetings in November and December, hearing from all areas of the municipality’s operations and details on the next six years of capital plans.
“This is truly this new council’s culmination of all our work coming up with this business plan and our strategic priorities,” said Councillor Joanna McCallum. “It was quite enjoyable and it was exciting to see where my colleague’s values and vision was for the community.”
In terms of taxes, the new budget increases the amount property owners in the community pay to $28.6 million to fund operations next year and $26 million in 2020.
Mayor John Borrowman suggested residents should look beyond a percentage point increase, and recognize the value in programs and services offered in the amenity rich community.
“The work we are doing this evening and we have been doing over the past couple of months around the budget is arguable the most important job councils are elected to do,” Borrowman said. “Part of the reason we choose to live here is to a large extent due to the amenities, amazing facilities and opportunities that exist here.”
He said the challenge for council is to determine what programs and services into the future build and maintain the community, as well as responds to pressures facing the municipality into the future like climate change.
“I think we get really good value for what we pay in taxes,” said the mayor.
Coun. Vi Sandford said it is exciting to see the goals of the community unfold into the future through the budgets.
“This operating budget, I really think, reflects the values of our community, the things we do well and the things we want to bring into the future,” she said.
As a cost per $100,000 in assessment the 2019 municipal tax increase represents $12.47 a year, or $1.04 a month. A $600,000 home, for example, will see a $75 a year increase to its tax bill, and finally, a $1 million Canmore property will see a $125 added to its annual property tax bill.
There are also other rates increased with the budget, including water bills and garbage and recycling rates. The water rate in 2019 is expected to increase based on the size of metre being used, but homeowners can expect a 2.9 per cent increase or average $16 bump to their bills over the entire year and 4.6 per cent or $18 for garbage and recycling fees.
The capital budget for 2019 included $7.7 million in utility projects and $9.8 million in other projects. The 2020 capital budget, which also received approval by council, sets out $8.2 million in utility related work and $9.3 million in Town operations.