Council approves 2013 budget
Property taxes to increase by 4.18 per cent
Stony Plain Town Council has approved the Municipality’s Operating and Capital Budget for 2013; ratepayers’ municipal taxes are projected to increase by 4.18 per cent. The final budget was adopted at the regular council meeting on Dec. 10, following Council-directed changes made to the initial draft, following three days of public deliberations in Nov.
“Throughout the budgeting process, Council’s and Administration’s shared goal was to designate the Town’s financial resources responsibly, by determining the appropriate balance between meeting community needs and maintaining quality of life with the reality of available resources,” says William Choy, mayor of Stony Plain. “I am confident we attained these objectives.”
The budget incorporates the resources required to implement Council’s priorities and strategic direction, maintain existing programs and service levels and provide for important new initiatives, while identifying operational efficiencies to help minimize the property tax / utility bill impact.
The 2013 consolidated operations budget amounts to $36,344,710 in both revenues and expenses and proposes a $79.30 annual municipal tax levy increase for the average single-family residential property assessed at $400,000. The balanced budget carries no surpluses or deficits and includes a 2.32 per cent increase in net protective services costs and a 1.86 per cent increase for general municipal expenses. The 2013 capital budget is $13,667,562.
Although Council has approved the budget, the final impact on taxation will be determined in spring, once final assessment figures and educational tax requisitions are determined. The Town collects education taxes on behalf of the Province; at this time, school and other tax rates are assumed to be the same as they were in 2012.
Water and Sewer
The average ratepayer (using 20 cubic meters of water per billing period) will see an overall billing increase of $7.93 (9.99 per cent) per month ($95.16 annually) for water and sewer services.
Garbage, Organics and Recycling
Monthly garbage and recycling collection rates will decrease by 7.39 per cent, as a result of waste management changes made in 2012. Residential / institutional rates will decrease by $1.50 per unit per month – from $22.10 to $20.60; rates for service to apartments and seniors’ complexes will decrease as well – from $13.57 to $12.64 and from $8.86 to $8.50, respectively.
Financial support for some publicly funded community groups will increase in 2013; namely: the Stony Plain Public Library (from $300,000 to $315,000); the Multicultural Heritage Society (from $85,402 to $88,819); and the Pioneer Museum (from $44,000 to $50,000).
The budget includes funding for increased staffing requirements, in order to meet the ever-evolving needs of the community. As well, $300,000 will be transferred from the Policing and Public Safety Reserve to supplement the increase in the RCMP contract.
The Town’s share of funding community policing in Stony Plain increased to 90 per cent after the official population reached more than 15,000 (2011 Federal Census data). 2013 is the second year of the phased-in approach to these increased costs, in order to ease the impact to the tax base. The budget also includes $64,604 to cover the costs of contracting an additional police officer, with a mid-year start.
Select user-fees keep pace with market conditions and off-set increased costs of providing fee-based services. The Town will increase the local access fees it charges to FortisAlberta and ATCO Gas for use of municipal lands – by 10 and four per cent, respectively. Fortis and ATCO will recover these fees from their customers.
The Town will designate $208,806 of provincial funding it receives through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) for several initiatives: a Report Web Module; computer leases; equipment maintenance; supplies; software maintenance; and professional fees.
The majority – more than 50 per cent – of revenue required for Town operations is sourced from municipal property taxes. The municipal tax levy has increased from $4.3 million in 2001 to a projected
$11 million in 2013. Two other major sources of revenue are provincial government transfers and user fees.
About the Budgeting Process
A municipal budget is the local government's central nervous system, by which all programs and services are funded. It is a detailed financial plan that specifies the spending required to bring municipal services to the community and to maintain municipal assets.
Planning the corporate budget is one of the biggest undertakings of the year. It takes months of planning and hours to prepare, review and finalize what – and where – public tax dollars, provincial grants and transfers and revenues from user charges will be spent.
The budget consists of two main parts: operating expenses and capital expenses. Operating Expenses cover day-to-day expenses pertaining to such items as salaries and benefits; programming; supplies; insurance; legal fees; transportation; rent; and repairs. Capital Expenses are big-ticket items or assets – such as land, buildings, roads, pipes and other equipment in excess of $5,000. They are primarily funded from various reserves, development charges and grants – rather than from property taxes. Annually, the Town updates a 10-Year capital forecast to prepare for any extra expenses the municipality may face in coming years. The Town considers a number of master planning documents during this process.
The Town's budget consists of identifying both expenditures and revenues. Approval of the budget is an extensive process, which involves great deliberation and fine scrutiny.
Every fall, administration prepares three-year operating budgets for Council's consideration. Council typically approves one-year and accepts the other two for information. The budgets are first prepared at departmental levels and driven by both overall corporate business plan goals and individual departmental priorities and initiatives. All budgets and supporting documentation are compiled into one master document. The Town Manager and Senior Leadership Team review the full draft budget, which is presented to Council in Nov. for three days of public deliberations.
The final budget is set in Dec.; the tax rate is established in spring. Notices are sent out in May, and taxes are due on Jun. 30.
The Town is committed to promoting economic security and equity through efficient and innovative use of resources that considers the needs of current and future generations. Economic viability is one of the four elements of the Community Sustainability Plan, which governs how the Town conducts its business