Ponoka town council approved the 2023 Town of Ponoka budget at its regular meeting on April 11.
The total amount of the 2023 budget is $26,294,609, which includes an operating budget of $21,140,030 and a capital budget of $5,154,579.
In a press release, the town stated the 2023 budget balances spending to deliver on key priorities in its 2018-2023 Strategic Plan while continuing to fund essential services.
“(The budget) also continues to invest in key infrastructure that positions our community to grow and thrive into the future,” said chief administrative officer Sandra Lund in the release.
The town had an assessment growth equal to $241,300 in property taxation, along with an increase in provincial grant funding of $233,180.
The 2023 budget includes a property tax rate increase of four per cent, as initially approved by council last fall in the interim budget.
This equates to an annual increase of $32 per $100,000 of assessed property value for residential properties, and $42 per $100,000 of assessed value for commercial properties, which helps offset inflationary costs and ensures continued reliable delivery of municipal services is supported, according to the town.
The 2023 budget includes a infrastructure renewal program.
“The town is committed to maintaining and replacing key infrastructure each year as determined by our Asset Management Plan,” said Ponoka Mayor Kevin Ferguson.
The majority of capital and infrastructure projects in the budget is funded through annual provincial and federal grant funding, which has been reduced by almost $1 million annually over the past two years, he said.
Some of the projects planned for 2023 include:
• Ponoka’s Annual Pavement and Concrete Improvement Program – This includes annual maintenance and improvement of town roadways and sidewalks throughout the community;
• New dog park – Following public consultation over the past year to develop the design of the dog park, construction of the new park is planned for 2023 on the east side of 49 Street across from the Town of Ponoka Operations Centre;
• Ponoka Aquaplex improvements – Will include exterior improvements and renovations to the washrooms and multi-purpose room to optimize the functionality of the building for visitors and facility users;
• Wayfinding signage – The town’s new wayfinding signage program that launched in 2022 will be expanded to include more signage in the downtown area, industrial park and highway corridors;
• Lions Centennial Park upgrades – Will include a new T-shaped dock for the fishing pond which is accessible to people with mobility challenges; and park design improvements that will be guided by public consultation in 2023. Construction will occur in the future based on design and funding approval by town council;
• Waterworks and Electrical System Improvements – Including ongoing equipment rehabilitation at town pump stations and reservoirs, ongoing replacement of electrical metres to ensure optimum accuracy and operation in compliance with federal regulations; and planning and analysis for future improvements to the town’s Wastewater Treatment System; and
• Completion of 51 Avenue redevelopment – Between 50 and 51 Street, including redevelopment and design improvements to the municipal parking lot on the south side of 51 Avenue; a second layer of asphalt paving and line marking; installation of permanent sidewalks, landscaping, benches and garbage receptacles.
The town asserts the 2023 budget aligns with the results of its annual public consultation process, which included a statistically-valid Citizen Satisfaction Survey, Coffee with Council events, an online Budget Open House and a Citizen Input Survey.
The top priorities identified by citizens in the surveys include:
• Quality of Life (a safe, healthy and thriving community);
• Policing and crime prevention;
• Parks, recreation and culture, which includes improvements to recreation facilities, parks and trails in the Town of Ponoka;
• Growth and economic health, which includes attracting more businesses; and
• Improvements to roads and streets.
Ferguson said the public input was reflected in planned improvements such as the new dog park, ongoing annual improvements to roads and sidewalks throughout Ponoka, continued funding of the town’s new full-time Community Peace Officer who was hired in 2022, and ongoing funding of efforts to attract new businesses such as the town’s New Resident and Business Attraction Incentive Programs and continued upgrades and improvements to town infrastructure.
“I think this budget does a very good job of balancing the needs of our community while positioning Ponoka for continued growth and success,” said Ferguson.