Following a thorough deliberation, Council adopted the 2022-2024 operating and capital budgets.
The budget delivers on creating a complete community and reflects the costs of maintaining current services. It provides the Town with the necessary funding to continue to provide quality services today, save for future needs, and deliver on the projects that will support the community both now and into the future.
“As our community has continued to grow and evolve, and the expectation for innovative, customer-focused service delivery has increased, Town administration has been challenged to keep pace, operationally and financially,” said Town of Cochrane Chief Administrative Officer Mike Derricott. “This budget is the next step to becoming appropriately sized and funded.”
Over the past 10 years, the Town’s operating budgets have not kept pace with inflation, growth and increase in services. From 2011-2021, Cochrane’s population increased by 111%. The kilometers of single paved roads increased by nearly 300%. And the acres of maintained park space increased by 65% in just six years.
Administration initially proposed a draft three-year budget which included year-over-year consistent increases to the municipal tax rate. Through the deliberations, Council indicated their desire to front end the tax rate increase in 2022 to significantly build much-needed capacity in the organization. The impact in 2022 on the average residential property, including utilities, is less than $25 per month.
“As a Council, we passed a budget that provides a path forward, building on Cochrane’s strengths while addressing some very real challenges,” said Mayor Jeff Genung. “The investments we are making will pay real dividends as we continue to lay the ground-work on building a complete community. And as we continue to invest in new parks and pathways, or add new roadways, we are also ensuring that we have the appropriate equipment to maintain them and the required staff complement to deliver the services that Cochranites expect.”
Currently, the Town of Cochrane has one of the lowest operating expenditures per dwelling unit in Alberta. The increase reflects several uncontrollable cost increases such as pre-bargained union staff increases, a decrease in provincial government grants and the increased cost of RCMP services as a result of the federal government union negotiations. It also reflects significant increases in inflationary costs related to the procurement of goods and services, fuel costs required to operate Town equipment, and utility costs to heat and power facilities.
The capital budget supports Council’s strategic priorities, with a significant focus on transportation solutions and utility-related infrastructure. This includes the completion of the Highway 1A project, the implementation of a water licencing strategy, and the purchase of new fleet equipment including a snowplow to ensure ongoing service delivery. The budget also supports appropriate maintenance and saving for our future infrastructure needs.
Specific tax rate impacts will vary by property type depending on the assessed value of a home or business, as well as next year’s provincial education property tax rate, which will be finalized in the first half of 2022.
More information is available at cochrane.ca/Budget.