By Mabell, Dave on December 27, 2019.
Lethbridge Herald – coaldale
Coaldale’s outdoor pool will be repaired for swimming next summer. And there will be more money for Settlers’ Day fireworks and for the Festival of Lights next year.
But there will be no increase in residential tax rates for 2020. And Coaldale Town Council has voted to keep utility rates unchanged as well.
“Council set out to have zero per cent increase to the residential tax rate for both 2019 and 2020,” says Mayor Kim Craig.
In fact, the 2020-22 operating budget approved by council recently shows next year’s residential rate will be trimmed by 0.63 per cent. The year’s total operating budget was set at $19,288,547.
“To exceed that goal and to provide a 0.63 per cent reduction to our 2020 residential tax rate is something we are very proud of,” the mayor says.
And taxes could be lower, council noted, if Coaldale residents were paying a fair share of their policing costs.
Next year’s RCMP policing bill is expected to exceed $1.406 million, council learned.
But Coaldale is the only community in Canada with a population between 5,000 and 15,000 that’s required to pay 100 per cent of its policing costs, town officials point out. All others in that population group pay just 70 per cent.
Town officials will continue to advocate for fairness, they stress.
And Coaldale will also be losing $107,000 in photo radar and traffic fine revenue, the budget shows. The province’s United Conservative government is now keeping 40 per cent of that revenue, compared to the previous government’s 27 per cent.
But town officials were able to find cost savings to keep taxes from rising. Operating expenses, including waste collection, will be reduced by more than $333,000 in 2020, And changing to a new employee benefit provider helped trim more than $12,000 from wages and benefits paid to town employees.
Workers Compensation Board rates also dropped following introduction of a new safety program for employees.
Coaldale’s outdoor pool was closed last summer after a mechanical breakdown. But council has agreed to spend about $265,000 to repair it for use next summer.
“This will buy valuable time for the town to work with the community to develop plans for a long-term solution for this much-enjoyed amenity,” officials say.
To support the design and construction of a new multi-use recreation centre, Coaldale will continue to add a $120 “special tax” to property tax bills.
Other funding initiatives approved by council include an additional $20,000 for Settlers’ Days fireworks and $15,000 for the Festival of Lights. The Handi-Ride Association will continue to receive $45,000 and the Gem of the West Museum Society will be granted $30,000.
New initiatives will include digital water temperature and water level gauges on town-controlled stormwater ponds, providing information on when bacterial larvicide should be applied to reduce the threat of West Nile Virus illness carried by mosquitoes.
Town council is continuing to put aside about $1.9 million each year in capital replacement reserves, and it will continue its back-alley rebuilding program with a further 10 blocks to be completed in 2020.
And sewer pipe relining projects are proving an effective cost-saving measure, officials say, so that work will continue in 2020 and 2021.
A comprehensive year-end review for 2019 will be available in the first quarter of 2010, officials add.
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