For Immediate Release / November 2, 2020
Proposed Financial Plan & 2021 Budget Presented to Council
At the November 2, 2020 City Council Meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Scoble presented Council with the Proposed Financial Plan and 2021 Budget.
The past year has been marked globally by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is anticipated to result in long-term financial, economic, and social impacts. As a result, the City of St. Albert has had to adjust and adapt its operations, services and programs to accommodate this new reality.
The City’s response to the pandemic continues to be guided by the need to protect residents, visitors, patrons and staff, while also exercising fiscal responsibility. The City’s response has meant reduced revenues and increased costs. Through reallocation of resources, cost-saving initiatives, deferrals of projects and changes in service levels, Administration successfully reduced a projected $14.4 million deficit to $500 thousand, while at the same time maintaining core service provision through the pandemic.
However, these actions were one-time solutions to manage the short- to medium-term COVID-19 impacts. To ensure a fiscally sustainable plan in the medium- to long-term, a thorough examination of the programs and services offered by the City is prudent. As a result, Ernst and Young has been retained to conduct an Operational and Fiscal Corporate Review and will present opportunities for the City to consider in two phases (Q4 2020 and Q2 2021).
While the Operational and Fiscal Corporate Review is underway, further restraint is required in developing the 2021 proposed budget. Administration has developed a proposed budget that considers these numerous factors and realities through:
- Prioritizing services and service levels;
- Supporting growth to move Council’s Strategic Plan forward; and,
- Maintaining and planning for key infrastructure projects to support our recovery.
Long-term fiscal sustainability is also one of the City’s top priorities. Administration is focused on developing sustainable business practices through revenue generation opportunities, cost-savings initiatives, process efficiency improvements and the creation of regional partnerships and collaborative opportunities where appropriate. The corporate review will assist in making informed decisions in an appropriate timeframe and identifying opportunities within the focus areas.
Proposed Operating Budget – For 2021, Administration is proposing an operating budget of $112.4 million, which yields an overall average municipal property tax increase of 1.1 per cent. To achieve this percentage, Administration has used reimbursed dollars from the Province through the Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) grant program, carried forward 2020 savings through cost and service reductions. The proposed municipal operating budget also identifies new service level adjustment business cases for Council’s consideration to be able to further reduce the tax rate to a possible zero per cent increase.
Proposed Municipal Capital Budget – The proposed Municipal Capital Budget is comprised of 44 projects totaling $39.4 million, which includes:
- 10 capital charters addressing community growth total $6.0 million for consideration
- 29 capital charters addressing RMR (Repair, Maintain & Replace existing infrastructure) totaling $26 million, approved in July 2020
- 5 capital charters of $7.4 million, approved in September 2020
Proposed Utility Capital Budget – The proposed utility capital budget of $19.6 million includes 11 capital projects, which focus on repairing, maintaining and/or replacing existing utility infrastructure, such as in-ground infrastructure like stormwater and sewage pipes. The proposed monthly utility bill will yield an average decrease of 0.03 per cent or a change of $0.40 compared to last year.
“Council encourages all residents to have their say on what priorities are important to them and to participate in upcoming budget opportunities,” says Mayor Cathy Heron. “This year, rather than hold an open house, the City is trying a new online platform to engage with our residents. This tool provides an opportunity for a greater number of residents to participate and share their thoughts, which will help us better understand their needs as we move forward.”
Residents are invited to have their say online from October 13 to November 19. All input will be shared with City Council and inform their decision-making on the 2021 budget. To participate, visit conversation.stalbert.ca/budget-2021.
For more information on the proposed financial plan and 2021 budget, as well as the full proposed budget document (to be added November 3), visit the City of St. Albert’s website at budget.stalbert.ca and click on 2021 Budget.
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Last edited: November 2, 2020