Property taxes to increase by 1.5 per cent

Town council passed the town’s interim budget that will see a property tax increase of 1.5 per cent in 2016.

Town council passed the town’s interim budget that will see a property tax increase of 1.5 per cent in 2016.

The decision was made Tuesday, Dec. 8 during council’s regular meeting, which showed a full budget of $26 million with $15.8 in operations and $10.2 in capital expenses.

The budget includes a 3.5 per cent cost of living increase for management employees, something council debated during its public budget deliberations recently.

At the time of deliberations, council agreed on a 1.3 per cent cost of living adjustment in the budget, however, the 3.5 per cent was already accounted for and agreed on with the town’s out of scope policy, explained Sandra Lund, director of corporate services.

Coun. Carla Prediger suggested the amount could be dropped down to 1.3 per cent as was initially discussed during deliberations.

With a struggling economy Coun. Teri Underhill agreed and suggested a higher raise could be ideal during a boom in jobs. Coun. Loanna Gulka disagreed and suggested one reason for the raise is to ensure the town is a competitive work environment.

“We can’t be reneging on staff like that,” added Coun. Tim Falkiner.

Following the discussion the interim budget was passed. Prediger added a motion related to capital expenses at the Ponoka Fire Department.

She requested that no large capital spending be done on equipment, specifically the $500,000 budgeted for a new fire truck, until a fire services agreement is finalized with Ponoka County. The only equipment allowed for purchase is a generator and air compressor needed for breathing apparatus.

Prediger’s motion passed with councillors Gulka and Falkiner voting against it.

Utility rates schedule passes second reading

A request from administration to pass the town’s proposed utility rates schedule for 2016 did not pass third reading.

The proposed increase will see a 1.3 per cent increase in flat rates for water and sewer. Water will remain the same as in 2013 and 2014 as the North Red Deer Water Commission did not increase water rates, explained Lund.

Flat rates for waste management increase to $22.41 from $15.81 to cover the cost of recycling with Green For Life Environmental.

By not passing third reading of the bylaw, the town will have to foot the bill for the additional recycling costs. Dave McPhee, director of operations and property services, said until the bylaw passes the town will have to pay approximately $15,000 per month. Council did not move forward with third reading.

As Ponoka News was prepared for production, a notice was sent out by the town of a special council meeting set for Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 9 a.m. to vote on the utility rates schedule.