Rocky View County (RVC) is contemplating a six per cent tax increase across the board for residential and non-residential rates to help offset inflationary pressures that have driven the County’s costs much higher than expected so far in 2022.
Councillors heard from executive director of corporate services Kent Robinson and RVC department heads at two special meetings held on Nov. 14 and Nov. 16 to go over the 2023 draft budget.
“As a result of the environment we are in right now in terms of economics, the budget we have in front of us has a proposed a six per cent tax increase,” confirmed Robinson. “I know tax increases are never an easy decision for council, but we are providing the best advice we can if we want to continue the existing service levels we have.”
Robinson said the initial tax increase contemplated for 2023 had been four per cent when considered a year ago, but staff felt another two per cent on top of that was necessary to offset inflationary pressures affecting everything from energy costs to fuel costs for County operations.
The six per cent increase in taxes would allow the County to generate another $4.7 million in revenue, with another $2.2 million coming in from taxes for new builds this year for a total of $6.9 million.
The total operating budget for RVC in 2023 is projected to be just over $214 million, which is about $20 million less than the 2022 budget.
Robinson confirmed the County has about $119 million in total reserves at the moment.
He said staff was also not contemplating any debt increases in 2023, and, if council approves the draft budget next month, there would be about $880,000 in additional funds not earmarked, which could be allocated toward some new targeted spending measures.
While public engagement on the draft budget was extensive, Div. 4 Coun. Samanntha Wright felt there should be another opportunity for direct feedback from the community before council passes it. With agreement from the rest of council, Wright proposed the public have an additional opportunity to read over the draft budget and attend the Dec. 14 public meeting to provide direct feedback in person, or submit their comments to County staff in advance of that meeting.
Council may also decide to approve the draft budget that day (Dec. 14).
Those wanting to view the draft budget can do so at the County's website, rockyview.ca.