After further consideration of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the current economic climate in Alberta, County of Grande Prairie Council has decided to apply the 2019 surplus of $1.15 million to the 2020 budget, resulting in a 1.2 per cent decrease to the municipal tax rate.
“The interim budget we passed in December included a one per cent increase, but things have changed substantially since then,” said Reeve Leanne Beaupre. “As it stands now, we know even a small increase would be difficult for our community, so we have reduced the budget, with a 1.2 per cent decrease to the municipal portion of property taxes. We hope this, combined with the waiving of penalties for late payments from June 30 to October 31, will help reduce the challenges many of our residents and businesses may be experiencing.”
While some services, programs and events have been delayed, suspended or cancelled this year, the County continues to move forward on critical projects, essential programs and services such as maintaining and investing in roads and infrastructure; community safety; family, community and social support services; and agriculture programs.
“We have found ourselves in unchartered territory dealing with the impacts from the COVID19 pandemic,” said Beaupre. “I commend Council for their leadership and Administration for their hard work on following best practices to balance fiscal responsibility while ensuring essential services are maintained during this particularly difficult time of unpredictability. The County will continue to find ways to get through this difficult time and minimize the impacts to our community.”
The $149.5 million budget includes estimated expenditures of $78.4 million for general operations and $71.1 million for capital, 58 per cent of which is being allocated to capital road projects. This equates to a two per cent increase in operations and eight per cent decrease in capital expenditures from 2019. Measures to reduce the budget include not proceeding with proposed new hires and implementing additional cost-saving measures while ensuring essential services are maintained.
The overall 2019 taxable assessment increased by $444.3 million (5 per cent increase over 2018).
An average residential property valued at $435,000 will pay a total of $2,851 per year in municipal taxes – $1,773 for the municipal services portion plus $1,078 in requisitions for Provincial Education and the Seniors Foundation. Municipal taxes may vary based on individual property assessments and changes to the market value.
The 2019 surplus of $1.15 million represents less than 1 per cent of the County’s total budget, and results from departmental cost savings.
Approximately $40.9 million is being invested in capital road and bridge projects.
The proposed new construction includes 29.7 km of road surfacing including the paving of gravel roads, surfaced road overlays, and re-construction and divisional road projects.
Grant funding is estimated at $8.5 million, including an estimated $1.3 million Federal Gas Tax Grant and an estimated $7.2 million in funding from Provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) Grant.
The following is a list of scheduled road projects:
- 108 Ave, 108A Ave, 109 Ave and 96 St in Wynngate – pave, curb and gutter 0.9 km
- Range Road 53 from Township Road 712 north to City limits – grade 3.2 km
- Range Road 52 from Township Road 712 north to Township Road 714 – grade 3.2 km
- Township Road 724 from Highway 723 west to Range Road 102 – grade 3.2 km
- Willowdale Phase 4 on 95 St, 103 Ave and 101 Ave – pave, curb and gutter 0.53 km
- Township Road 730 from Range Road 35 east to Highway 733 – grade 3.2 km
- Township Road 712 from Range Road 75 west to Range Road 82 – base and pave 4.9 km
- Range Road 74 from Highway 3 south – grade 1.6 km
- Lakeview Road/Range Road 73 – overlay 1.8 km
- Valhalla North/Range Road 100 – overlay 3.3 km
- Wedgewood Phase 3 rehabilitation – overlay 0.7 km
- 162 Avenue near Days Inn – base and pave 3 km
- Advance turning signalization for Highway 2 and 84 Avenue intersection study
- $6.97 million for bridge replacement and rehabilitation projects including the replacement of the Rio Grande Bridge
- $2.14 million for spot construction, road widening and chip sealing projects
- Additional $350,000 for the Ditch Cleaning Program bringing total to $515,000
In addition to road construction, the capital budget includes:
- $7.3 million for replacement of vehicles and equipment
- $6.5 million for servicing the lands adjacent to the Five Mile Community Hall site for future schools
- $3 million to purchase crown land for industrial development
- $1 million to construct storm water drainage system along 156 Avenue in Clairmont
- $590,000 to install sewer line along 148 Avenue in Clairmont to 94 Street
- $460,000 to build Phase 1 of the La Glace Water Treatment Plant
- $412,000 in Regional Fire Service equipment replacements and upgrades including a new Live Fire Training Facility
- $250,000 for Accounting Software
- $235,000 for Pipestone Creek Campground and Bear Lake Campground site upgrades
- $115,000 for new transport vehicle for spot and miscellaneous construction projects
- $75,000 for GPS traffic control system for emergency vehicles to enhance response times
- $158,000 for equipment replacements at the Crosslink County Sportsplex including new bouncy castles and for rebuilding a compressor, as well as a new gas detection system
The operating budget proposed for 2020 includes:
- $5.7 million in recreation, community, culture, library, seniors and special needs transportation, and FCSS grants to various organizations
- Over $1.6 million towards Weed Control services and programs (over 63 per cent of the Agriculture department budget)
- Additional $44,000 for Evergreen Park to support operations for a total contribution of $444,000
- Additional $100,000 each year over five years (2020-2024) to support STARS for a total contribution of $300,000
- $100,000 per year for two years for the Sunrise House Youth Emergency Shelter
- $250,000 for Pipestone Creek Park 2nd Access Engineering Study
- $258,000 for the Tri-Municipal Industrial Partnership
- $187,675 for Commercial investment and attraction strategy
- $162,200 to develop Intermunicipal Collaboration Frameworks with the Town of Beaverlodge and the Town of Wembley, respectively
- $140,000 for records management program initiative
- $120,000 for concrete crushing at Clairmont Centre for Recycling and Waste Management
- $60,000 for Business Visitation program
- $35,000 to take over operations and maintain the Clairmont Adventure Park
Schedule of Fees and Rates Changes
Fees for the Assessment Review Board Appeal Deposits for Residential and Farmland properties will decrease from $100 per appeal to $50 per appeal.
Fees for Commercial/Industrial and Residential/Non-member rates will increase from $95 to $96.90 per tonne for waste disposal.
Fees for the Residential curbside recycling collection will increase from $4.50 to $4.75, and from $9.25 to $9.50 per month for curbside waste collection due to an increase in contract hauling service costs.
There will be a 3 per cent increase in sewer rates, which amounts to a $1 increase bi-monthly for residential property owners; and a $2 bi-monthly increase for commercial property owners in the hamlets of Bezanson, La Glace, Teepee Creek and Valhalla.
A 3 per cent increase to bi-monthly water rates equating to a $3 increase bi-monthly for residential property owners, and $9 increase bi-monthly for commercial property owners in the hamlets of Bezanson, La Glace and Teepee Creek.
The introduction of a $100 fee to renew a development permit.
Updated schedule of fees will be posted on www.countygp.ab.ca.
For more information on the 2020 final budget, please contact Joulia Whittleton, CAO, at (780) 532-9722.