Council passes 2020 Operating Budget

NEWS RELEASE
March 26, 2020
For immediate release
 

Council passes 2020 Operating Budget

Cold Lake, AB – At its regular meeting on March 24, Cold Lake City Council passed an Operating Budget and amended its Capital Budget for 2020. The budgets outline a total of just under $44.3 million in operational spending and $8.8 million in capital projects.

The budget forecasts an average municipal tax increase of 1.11 per cent. It should be noted that the tax increase forecast may vary in either direction depending on the economic impacts relating to COVID-19, as the city continues to consider ways to lessen the impacts to local residents and business.

In 2019, budgets were passed with about $43 million in operational spending and $23.33 million in capital projects, by comparison.

“This is very much a hold-the-line budget that seeks to get our community through some very uncertain times,” Mayor Craig Copeland said. “With the price of oil and the COVID-19 situation causing uncertainties, the future of the ID 349 still in limbo, and the city’s intermunicipal collaboration framework being uncompleted, we’ve held fast to as much as we can, but we will have to put many capital projects on hold as we see what the future has in store.”

The 2020 budget contains no increases to staffing levels or to levels of service. It continues to maintain an allowance for uncollectable taxes due to the ongoing dispute over Payment in Lieu of Taxes with the Federal Government for the Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake (also known as 4 Wing Cold Lake) and the Cold Lake Golf and Winter Club. The allowance for 2020 is in the amount of $1.2 million which forms part of the Government of Canada’s outstanding invoice totaling $22.2 million. Of the total outstanding amount, the Government of Alberta is seeking $2.9 million for its portion of the Education Tax.

Both the delays of ID 349 and the PILT payments have significant impacts on the finances of the City of Cold Lake and restrict the options available for the City of Cold Lake.

Based on the current assessment and tax structure, a one-per-cent increase in municipal taxes generates approximately $205,000 in new revenues. By approving this budget Council has committed to an estimated 1.11 per cent average municipal tax increase in 2020. The taxes levied, however, are proportionate to the assessment of the property. Some municipal property taxes may increase and some may decrease at a different rate depending on the increase or decrease in the assessed value in relation to other properties in the City.

 

The tax rate will be set in May 2020. A municipal tax and utility payment deferral program was passed by council for April, May, and June 2020. More information is available at www.coldlake.com or by contacting City Hall via email: city@coldlake.com or telephone: 780-594-4494.

 

Highlights of the 2020 Operational Budget include:

  • Continuation of most levels of service, including funding for a Family and Children’s services program.
  • $90,000 to assist with the implementation of a crime reduction strategy, including an additional RCMP member.
  • A matching grant of $62,000 for a power cot and load installation in two ambulances.
  • An approximate five per cent increase in recreation rates.
  • Closure of the north arena.

Highlights of the 2020 Capital Budget include:

  • Fleet and equipment replacement worth about $1.32 million.
  • Environmental infrastructure projects (including waste management, water, wastewater and storm water projects) totaling $1.65 million.
  • Roadway infrastructure totaling about $3.17 million.
  • Facility infrastructure projects totaling about $2.05 million.
  • $440,000 in spending to upgrade information technology systems.
  • $130,000 in recreational infrastructure spending.

Included in the capital projects is the infrastructure needed to implement a camera system as part of the city’s 2020 Crime Reduction Program, as well as enhanced lighting for the downtown business district. Details on these projects will be shared as the programs roll out.

Budget documents will soon be available for download on www.coldlake.com

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Thursday, March 26, 2020