The Town of Strathmore has approved their 2023 operating budget, which was finalized during the Dec. 7 regular meeting of council.
Throughout the process of evaluating and approving the budget, several amendments were made since the initial presentation to council.
Included in these a tax increase, which was finalized to sit officially at 4.5 per cent over the 2022 budget, having been reduced from the initially proposed 4.9 per cent increase.
Tom Maier, manager of financial reporting and budgeting for the Town of Strathmore, explained during the meeting of council, a change of 0.1 per cent to taxes equates to roughly $20,000.
Reducing tax increase by a total 0.4 per cent will effectively reduce the town budget by $80,000.
The town’s combined total budget was officially approved at $38,024,800. This is broken down into $35,119,800 operating, and $2,905,000 capital budgets over the course of 2023.
“While the Strategic Plan lays out council’s vision for Strathmore, the budget is administration’s commitment to making the vision a reality.” said Leana Ashbacher, senior manager of financial services for the Town of Strathmore. “Council’s approval of the 2023 budget sets the pace for the projects, initiatives and services that will make the Town of Strathmore future ready.
“This year’s budget was about investing in programs and services that improve community well-being, while balancing what’s possible given the current economic realities, inflationary pressures, and pandemic recovery.”
Coun. Brent Wiley said during the meeting, he is aware the increase to local tax rates will not be a well-received decision, despite its necessity.
“No one wants to see taxes go up, but simultaneously no one wants to see services go down. So this budget is not perfect, but it’s a compromise,” he said. “Our administration worked months to bring it down below five per cent before even bringing it to council. I will be supporting this budget, due to the very modest property tax increase and the fact that there are no significant services being cut.”
Mayor Pat Fule said while everyone is experiencing the effects of economic inflation, balancing a budget becomes an extremely difficult process.
“Council’s commitment to optimizing the value of every dollar has helped us be able to invest in the services that we’ve heard are important to residents – all while keeping our costs in line with community growth and economic pressures,” he said.
According to a release distributed by the Town, in relation to a typical home assessed at $350,000 in Strathmore, the 4.5 per cent tax increase will equate to an additional expense of $134 per year.
Fule added he acknowledged increasing taxes on residents is never an easy decision to make.
“Council and administration have worked tirelessly over the past few months and have prioritized financial prudence amid inflation to keep the tax demand increase as low as possible,” said Fule. “We believe we’ve struck a balance between showing fiscal restraint and supporting the needs of the community – now and into the future.”
Final tax levy and tax rates will be determined once education and senior housing requisitions are provided to the town in the spring, with no exact date currently indicated.
A final copy of the adopted 2023 budget will be made publicly available via the Town of Strathmore website in the new year.
By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Dec 15, 2022 at 15:37