Drumheller property owners will pay the same rate of tax in 2021 after Council approved the tax-supported operating budget on Monday evening. The approved budget supports funding for strategic priorities that are identified and adopted by Council, while maintaining current service levels. A zero-percent increase occurred previously in Drumheller back in 2017.
Public participation for the operational budget commenced earlier this quarter using a tool called Ethelo, with 134 responses from Valley residents. The conclusion of this consultation indicated the majority of residents in this sample wanted to see the budget remain mostly the same, with a small decrease in certain service areas.
“The input from the community was an important part of our deliberation for this year’s budget,” explains Mayor Heather Colberg. “It was also very important to us to weigh the impacts of COVID-19 on our community and local economy. We also have to consider the possibility of potential revenue shocks in coming months due to the pandemic. To keep the taxes maintained at current levels, we hope to ease anxieties of rate increases during these unprecedented times.”
The most notable changes to the 2021 budget include:
- Enhanced provision(s) to fund a full time Community Events Coordinator for programs and events.
- Completion of various I.T. projects originally commenced in 2020.
- Decreases in amortization in some departments to match previous allocations.
- Salary adjustments to reflect vacancies in the organization.
- Poverty reduction pilot project.
- Several third-party grants for Family Community Support Services and Community Development and Social Planning awarded in 2020 to use in 2020 and 2021.
“The pandemic effectively changed our organization and operations for much of 2020 and now into 2021 and comparisons of the 2021 to 2020 budgets cannot be done in isolation,” begins CAO Darryl Drohomerski. “For example, our recreation facilities were closed to the public for 37 of the 52 weeks in 2020 and are only recently reopening this year. Revenue and expenses in these areas experienced a significant impact in both 2020 and in 2021.”
The 2021 tax-supported Operating Budget municipal requisition of $9,008,330.00 is allocated to the Town’s service categories; General Government, Public Works & Transportation Services, Garbage Collection, Family Community Support Services, Community Services & Economic Stimulus, Recreation and Cultural Services and Protective Services. Capital budget discussions for 2021 will begin on March 22, 2021 at the Regular Council Meeting.
Each year as Administration and Council work to develop and refine the budget, the goals are to:
- Minimize the year over year financial impact to ratepayers.
- Maintain previously established levels of service that meets or exceeds the expectations of ratepayers, regulators and other stakeholders.
- Maintain a standard of repair and upkeep in order to safeguard assets and ensure their full life cycle is realized wherever possible and,
- Review current strategic plans and new initiatives that Council has identified and have deemed a high priority for the Town.