2018 BUDGET APPROVED; TAX INCREASE SET AT 3.06%Council discussed revisions made to the draft budget during the November deliberations, made a few last changes, and approved the revised 2018 budget at last night’s Council meeting.Maintaining service levels, promoting a proactive infrastructure program that considers both current and future requirements of our growing town are key goals of the 2018 budget.The Town’s total expenditures for 2018 is $53 million, with $27.2 million in offsetting revenues, resulting in $25.8 million in municipal property taxes to achieve a balanced budget. The property tax increase of 3.06% is estimated to impact the average residential property by $5.41 per month, or $65 for the year.The Town’s capital program addresses transportation needs and is primarily funded by off-site levies (developer-paid) and grants, with only $100,000 from property taxes.Council approved $21.8 million in capital projects:Bow River Bridge crossing and connections next steps: $15.8Local Transit Service: $7m deferred until decision made on service delivery modelHorse Creek Rail Pedestrian Crossing: $1.4George Fox Trail predesign/Quigley Dr West Edge pedestrian crossing: $0.4Centre Ave expansion predesign: $0.3Glenhill bridge accessibility ramps: $0.2Water capacity upgrades: $1.5Fleet and equipment: $0.6Riverview Drive surface upgrade: $0.5Facilities Lifecycling- including RancheHouse, Town shop: $0.3CP Rail Fencing downtown: $0.2Total Capital Projects: $21.8The 2018 budget includes 1.3% cost of living and market adjustments for non-union staff and funding for new positions: a RancheHouse manager, four firefighters, one assessor, one communications advisor, one development enforcement officer, a parks operator, RCMP detachment clerk/analyst, and an increase in hours for some part-time positions. The budget also supports three additional RCMP officers. Council also deferred market adjustments for management staff, reducing the budget by $50,000.Council also approved a number of fee increases:Sewer: increased $1.20 per yearWater: increased $1.20 per yearWaste and Recycling collection: increase to $21.50 — 5% or $1 per monthPay-as-you-Throw rate: increase to $3 per bag — 50% or $1 per bagThe Town supports a variety of community groups and projects. These annual grants are part of the 2018 Budget, for a total of $310,154:Community Grants program: $65,000Community Association grants: $5,000Boys and Girls Club: $35,000Cochrane Activettes: $15,000Cochrane and Area Humane Society: $30,000Stockmens’ Memorial Foundation: $38,500Cochrane Tourism Association: $48,134Bow River Basin Council: $5,000Jumping Pound Creek Watershed Partnership: $5,000Citizens on Patrol: $3,520Victim Services: $60,000
A grant of $598,416 to the Cochrane Public Library was approved that includes support for additional weekday evening hours; Rockyview Regional Handibus Society was approved for a grant of $189,504.Council received the draft 2018 budget at the end of October. Administration solicited questions and feedback from the community until the end of November. All feedback was provided to Council before their deliberations.Full budget documents will be available next week once all updates are completed: cochrane.ca/Budget.