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Open Letter to the citizens

March 11 2020

Day light savings time is a sure signal that Spring is on its way! The second UCP Provincial Budget has been tabled and since that day the Province, the Country and the World are experiencing significant issues that have and will directly or indirectly affect the state of the economy at all political and individual levels. Nonetheless, without undue fear, let us move forward with hope for better days and weather this “perfect storm” with tenacity, caution and resilience.

Many thanks to Cynda Spirig of Touché Salon, the now past President of the local Chamber of Commerce for all her services to the Business Community and to our Community at large. We wish her and her family all the best in the years to come! Congratulations to Mike Innes of the Royal Bank as the new President of the Chamber of Commerce.

Thank you to all of you who nominated me, Mayor Kronen, to be recognized on International Women’s day in our community. I am humbled by the result of your votes and want to thank the manager of the Bargain Shop for launching this initiative at the local level.

Kudos to our Public Works crew who have done an excellent job all winter long dealing with the prompt clearing of snow on our roads. We are proud of all your efforts. You work very long shifts to help us navigate safely through the Town. Thank you!

Today, I will touch on two topics: the impact of the Provincial Budget at the local level and the proposed Recreation Complex project.

2020-2021 Provincial Budget and Impact on Property Taxes

Property taxes are made up of 3 distinct portions, the first amount, the Municipal taxes controlled by the Town and based on property assessment, budget and mill rate, the second, the requisition for Senior Housing and the third, the Education taxes that the municipality collects on behalf of Alberta. This is part where the Budget will affect your upcoming taxes. The Education Tax will increase by over 4% this year alone and more increases will follow in the subsequent years. Furthermore, partial policing costs will be added to municipal taxes (see below). This year, we will tax for it. Next year, Council will have to decide how to deal with a potential 10% increase in taxes to cover these policing costs. We realize that it is an amount too large to bear by the taxpayer.

For the past 6 years, Council have kept the mill rate almost flat. This will start to change unless we find more efficiencies, use some reserves to lessen the tax burden and/ or reduce projects and services. At tax time Administration will make sure that you understand your property tax break down. This Council will strive hard to be fiscally responsible having each taxpayer in mind.

Our next fall planning session will deal with financial sustainability. Council will need to deal with the long-term impact of the Provincial budgetary cuts and their repercussion on our budgets as well as plan for essential capital infrastructure projects. Here are some sobering facts:

  1. The lowering of Capital Transfers from Province to Municipality by 37% within 3 years compared to last year. This year transfer revenues are down 16%, next year another 9%.

  2. The cancelling of Operational Transfers by 2022. Another $200,000 loss in revenues.

  3. Starting 2021, municipalities under 5000 will pay for policing costs: $75,000 now to $217,000 in 2023. This will impact the Municipal Tax portion of Property Taxes.

And on the long term, we also need to keep on the radar the capital investment that will be required to upgrade our aging sewer plant and water treatment plant.

We will continue to exercise much fiduciary prudence to maintain a strong sustainable financial position.

Proposed Recreation Complex Project by the Recreation Committee

If approved by the community, this project will require a significant long-term tax increase commitment from all taxpayers, residents and businesses, above and beyond the present level of taxation. Council will need strong answers to the following questions: Is there a firm community desire for an indoor recreation multiplex? In the affirmative, is each taxpayer in Cardston willing to contribute to the capital cost of the project and to the yearly operational deficit?

So, please come to the open house scheduled for Thursday March 26, at the Civic Center at 6pm or attend the Seniors’ luncheon on Monday March 16 to hear more about this idea. We absolutely need your input. Please note that Council has not made any decision regarding this project. Council has only supported the exploration of the idea through a consultant in concert with the County.

It is always a pleasure to serve you,

Mayor Kronen

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