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'Ambitious’ 2022 Innisfail budget approved

Council calls for two per cent tax hike but mayor counters there’s only been one increase since 2014
MVT Innisfail 2022 budget
Innisfail town council on Dec. 13 when members approved the 2022 operating and capital budgets. Property owners will see a two per cent tax increase. Johnnie Bachusky/MVP Staff

INNISFAIL – Town council officially passed its municipal budget last week, an “ambitious” document that lays out a property tax increase of two per cent to help support the unexpected increased policing bill and critically important capital upgrades such as the heliport and recreational facilities.

Final passage of the 2022 budget came at council’s regular meeting on Dec. 13. Following a presentation by Erica Vickers, the town’s director of corporate services, council passed an operating budget of $22,785,374, a capital budget of $7,168,668, and a projected surplus of $78,842.

She said the approved 2022 municipal budget will come into effect on Jan. 1.

“That contingency (surplus) against that sized budget is the smallest I have seen in a long time,” said Coun. Gavin Bates at the Dec. 13 meeting, adding he nevertheless supported the budget.

“It’s not bare bones. It gives us the funds to provide our existing services and undertake stated improvements, which are significant.”

While council has called for a two per cent tax increase, assessments will not be determined until the spring. Mill rates are scheduled to be set in March. These together will determine individual property tax assessments.

The town will begin 2022 with overall reserves of $14.7 million and is expecting to end the year with $12.2 million, a $2.5 million reduction.

As well, the town, like all provincial municipalities, is going into 2022 knowing there will be reduced provincial funding. For both 2022 and 2023 Innisfail is expected to receive just $847,106 in provincial MSI (infrastructure) funding, about half of what the town typically receives annually.

This coming year will also see Innisfail’s policing budget jump from $1,307,217 in 2021 to $1,497,907 in 2022, a hike of just over $190,000. This increase is a result of the recently completed collective bargaining agreement between the federal government and the National Police Federation on behalf of RCMP members.

Along with two per cent jump in property taxes, which is expected to translate to an extra $2.48 a month on a home assessed at $300,000, residents will also see increases to their monthly water and waste waster bills.

Water rates will increase this year from $2.60 per cubic metre to $2.71 per cubic metre. This increase is the result of an 11 cent increase in the rate charged to the town by the Mountain View Regional Water Commission, the supplier of Innisfail’s water.

The 2022 budget sees the monthly water flat rate remain at $10 per metered site.

Wastewater (sewer) rates will increase from $3.45 per cubic metre to $3.60 per cubic metre. This 15 cent increase reflects an eight cent increase in rates charged by the South Red Deer Regional Wastewater Commission.

The monthly wastewater flat rate will also remain the same as last year at $10 per metered site.

On the COVID front, Vickers said that as of Dec. 15 the town has had $80,538.62 in pandemic-related expenses, with about half of that picked up by the province’s Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) funding. Vickers said the town picked up the cost for the remaining expense.

She said it’s not known whether there will be any additional monies coming from the province to help with any future COVID-related expenses.

Despite the current and potentially future challenges ahead, Mayor Jean Barclay sees many good things about the 2022 budget.

“It’s an ambitious budget. I think there are some really exciting things in there like playgrounds, the new outdoor rink and the heliport. We are moving forward,” said Barclay, adding she believes the budget is "fair".

“We’ve had one tax increase since 2014, and that was in 2019,” she noted. “There comes a time when we see inflationary pressures and municipalities feel those pressures as households do and we have to make sure we don’t get too far behind on infrastructure projects and others we need to do, and make sure we have a bit of a contingency in place as well.”

The capital projects approved in the 2022 budget include:

• heliport upgrade ($641,271);

• 42nd Avenue sound wall ($1,000,000);

• 2022 surface improvements ($1,230,000);

• gravel/plow truck ($200,000);

• Eastgate lift station ($650,000);

• Macs Playground replacement ($230,000);

• ball diamond 4,5 and 6 irrigation ($55,000);

• arena playground ($250,000);

• outdoor rink upgrade ($400,000);

• energy conservation measures ($1,387,015);

• Library Learning Centre: new vinyl flooring in kitchen and supply room ($11,000);

• Dodd’s Lake area design ($50,000);

• refrigeration control system upgrade ($50,000);

• arena condenser unit replacement ($150,000);

• liquid chlorine production unit at the Aquatic Centre ($70,000);

• pool upgrade schematics and detailed design ($300,000); and

• a wheelchair accessible van ($96,363).

In the meantime, Vickers said the town will not know the provincial education component of the 2022 budget until the Alberta government passes its own budget, which is expected some time in spring.


Johnnie Bachusky

About the Author: Johnnie Bachusky

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