Town Council has approved the Municipality’s Operating and Capital Budget for 2014; municipal taxes are projected to increase by 11.36 per cent. The final Budget was adopted at the regular council meeting on Dec. 10, after Council-directed changes were made to the initial draft, which Council reviewed in public deliberations over the course of three days in November.
“Throughout the budgeting process, the goal was to designate the Town’s financial resources responsibly, determining the appropriate balance between meeting community needs with the reality of available resources,” says Mayor William Choy. “While this increase seems high, it will benefit our residents and the community in the long-run, ensuring our residents receive the quality and level of services they demand and deserve.”
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 tax impact.
Creating this year's budget presented some challenges, as the economy has not fully recovered, equally important priorities competed for limited dollars and the Province reduced the amount the Town receives from the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) grant - from $215,766 to $129,456. To lessen the impact of this decreased revenue, the Town will phase in funds from its reserves over the next three years. The first transfer — $32,686 — is included in the 2014 budget.
The Town expects to receive $39,286,929 in revenues in 2014; expenditures are budgeted the same. Property-owners of average single-family homes assessed at $400,000 will pay an additional approximately $219 per year in property taxes.
Net protective services costs and general expenses will rise by 5.88 and 5.48 per cent, respectively, and the Capital Budget is set at $17,183,500.
The Budget includes increased funding for snow removal service and related equipment rentals; additional staffing; and contracting two new full-time RCMP officers. The Town’s share of funding community policing jumped to 90 per cent in 2011, after Stony Plain’s population topped 15 000. To supplement this increased expense, the Town transfers
$300,000 from its Policing and Public Safety Reserve each year; 2014 will be the third year of this phased-in approach to paying for policing services, easing the impact on the tax-base.
Water & Sewer
The average ratepayer (using 20 cubic meters of water per billing period) will see an average increase of $2.76 per billing cycle ($33.07 annually) — or 3.16 per cent — for water and sewer distribution in 2014.
Garbage, Recycling and Organics
Collection rates will decrease overall by 16.91 per cent in 2014.
Although Council has approved the Budget, the final impact on taxation will be determined in spring, once final assessment figures and educational tax requisitions from the Government of Alberta 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 2013.
Download 2014 Budget (-11.87MB)
The Town collects revenues from three major sources: property taxation, provincial government transfers and user-fees.
Understanding 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