Town passes $25.4 million interim budget with tentative 2.7 per cent tax rate increase

Town will move forward with purchasing the civic centre in the new year

2020 operating revenues. Image courtesy Town of Ponoka

2020 operating revenues. Image courtesy Town of Ponoka

Ponoka town council used some creative methods, including cutting their own salaries, to create a $25,430,870 interim capital and operating budget with a low tax rate increase, which they approved during their regular meeting on Dec. 10.

All councillors voted unanimously to approve the budget, which reduces their 2020 compensation by 1.5 per cent from 2019 levels, and has a tentative tax increase rate of 2.7 per cent, a slight increase from the 2.2 per cent raise last year.

READ MORE: Town passes 2019 budgets and tax bylaw with 2.2 per cent increase

The total budget includes an operating budget of $18,824,920 and a capital budget of $6,605,950.

“This was a really tough budget to work through due to recently announced provincial funding cuts to municipalities,” said Mayor Rick Bonnett in a release.

“However, with considerable fiscal restraint and cost cutting, we are pleased that we can minimize property tax increases for 2020 while continuing to maintain funding for existing service levels and provide the day-to-day services that our residents have come to expect and rely on.”

More provincial funding cuts are expected in 2021.

“Whether we will be able to continue to avoid cuts to municipal services in 2021 remains to be seen,” he said.

The interim budget allows operations to continue from the beginning of the fiscal year until the final 2020 capital and operating budgets are approved in the spring.

The operating and capital budgets for 2020 can only be finalized after the town completes its 2019 year end and financial statements, receives its audit report, the surplus for the current year is known, and property assessments are completed, which will take until the end of March or beginning of April.

Council is expected to be presented with the final operating and capital budgets in April and a new tax bylaw and new tax rate will then be put before council in May.

The interim budget is essentially the same after council’s two days of deliberations held Nov. 20 and 21, with a few changes. Council made “straw votes,” during deliberations, meaning votes weren’t binding, but had the purpose of providing direction to administration.

READ MORE: Ponoka town council concludes two-day budget deliberations

As directed, along with the cut to council’s wages, administration reduced the operating expenses of purchased services, supplies and materials and other services by 2.5 per cent each, resulting in a savings of $651,130 from the initially proposed budget.

The interim budget also cancelled a scheduled transfer of $42,100 to the contingency reserve transfer, because the lean 2020 budget left no funds available, and the transfer will remain as a carry forward item for 2021 town budget.

A total of $350,000 from the 2018 operating surplus will be used to help balance the 2020 budget, instead of transferring the funds to reserves.

A $75,000 consulting fee for a service level review project was also removed from the budget, and the project will now be completed in-house.

The projected tax rate increase of 2.7 per cent would equate to an increase of about $22 per $100,000 of residential property assessment, and about $29 per $100,000 of commercial property assessment.

According to CAO Albert Flootman, the average amount of property taxes paid per household in Ponoka remains among the lowest of municipalities along the Hwy. 2 corridor.

A vote to direct administration to begin the process of exercising the town’s lease option to purchase the Ponoka Civic Centre from Thackeray Enterprises Inc. carried, with only the mayor voting opposed. No discussion was held on the matter during the Dec. 10 meeting.

The interim budget includes $2,177,770 for protective services, $2,508,240 for transportation, roads and the airport, $1,997,100 for parks and recreation and $248,100 for culture.

Some of the capital projects include $100,000 for the building planning and design of a new protective services building, which is being paid for by MSI grant funding from 2019, $100,000 from reserves for a community wellness centre (field house) and $525,000 from reserves for upgrades and maintenance of the town’s lagoon.

Capital projects in the 2020 interim budget are almost all funded by provincial or federal grants, including the continuation of a three-year project to improve roads and storm drainage in the southwest industrial park, beginning the design process to replace underground and roadway infrastructure on 52 Ave., $500,000 for annual paving and concrete improvements and funding for park improvements such as the one-acre park space at the southwest corner of the old hospital site.

Town council and administration considered feedback received from its public consultation when preparing the 2020 interim budget.

“We gave the public input and survey results careful consideration during the budget deliberations,” said Bonnett.

“When asked which option they would choose to the balance the budget — increase taxes or cut services — a majority of people were open to a small increase in taxes to maintain or enhance services.”

Full budget information can be viewed at

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


2020 operating expenditures. Image courtesy Town of Ponoka

2020 operating expenditures. Image courtesy Town of Ponoka

Just Posted

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer COVID cases continue to fall

114 cases in Red Deer, down one from Saturday

Maskwacis Pride crosswalk (Left to right): Montana First Nation Councillor Reggie Rabbit, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Louise Omeasoo, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Katherine Swampy, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Shannon Buffalo, Samson Cree Nation Chief Vern Saddleback.
Pride in Maskwacis

The 4th inaugural Maskwacis Pride crosswalk painting took place on Saturday 12, 2020.

Lorne Fundytus. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
OUR COMMUNITY: Rimoka Housing Foundation has a new CAO

Rimoka Housing Foundation (RHF) has a new, yet familiar, face to fill… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Most Read