After several meetings in November, Peace River town council deliberated the 2024 Operating Tax Supported Budget, officially approving it on Dec. 11.

“The operating budget includes all Town operations except those for water, wastewater, storm water and solid waste which are separated into their own Utility Budget which includes Operating and Capital for the Utilities,” explains Mayor Elaine Manzer.

“It was important to get the budgets approved before the end of the year, so that very early in 2024, staff can start preparing any tenders and doing other planning for the entire year, rather than waiting until late spring to do some of this work.”

Part of the budget includes Intermunicipal Collaboration Funding (ICF) to clearly allocate funds to areas that are used by residents of surrounding municipalities.

“Collaboration Funding amounts to approximately $600,000 from our ICF agreements with the three municipalities that surround the town of Peace River,” explains Manzer.

“These funds are to help with the expenses of the services which residents from all four of our municipalities have access to in the town,” she adds.

This year’s operating tax supported budget includes $24,091,240 of revenues and $27,648,000 of expenses.

“The operating budget includes some organizational changes which were some of the recommendations in the Organizational Review that the Town conducted about two years ago to realize some of the changing operational complexities within the departments,” says Manzer.

“Some of the changes, include hiring a Director of Protective Services to segregate these operations into their own department rather than as part of Corporate or Community Services. They include hiring an Economic Development Officer to directly oversee the economic development strategies that council has approved.”

Manzer says organizational changes also include hiring a lead hand to be directly responsible for parks and trails. She says, that as with all budgets, the Town is also experiencing increased costs in operating and maintaining the Town’s operations.

“The differences between revenues and expenses are balanced with debt borrowing, grants, partner contributions or taxes as municipalities cannot deficit budget,” explains Manzer.

“Council has had many budget discussions over the last months and did not make further changes on Dec. 11 when the budgets were passed. Property tax invoices include the education and North Peace Housing levies which are not yet known for 2024 but which the Town is mandated to collect for the Province and the housing authority.”

There will be slight increases to both residential and commercial taxes in 2024, which Manzer says is normal.

“In Peace River tax increases have been normal,” she says. “If increases do not happen, it means either services are cut, or bigger catchups happen in other years. Council and administration do continuously search for grants that can be applied for projects but are not always successful either for the grants themselves or the amounts we have applied for.”

Overall, the 2024 budget does not feature any prominent changes from the 2023 budget, with the only increases incorporating the inflationary pressures that all individuals and businesses face.

Copies of all budgets can be found on the Town of Peace River website at peaceriver.civicweb.net.

By Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter – South Peace News – southpeacenews.com

Original Published on Jan 03, 2024 at 08:15

This item reprinted with permission from   South Peace News   High Prairie, Alberta

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