City council passes 2019 budget

From back to front, councillors Terra Lennox-Zepp, Don Cody, Blake Edwards and Ted Zurakowski listen to a speaker during Thursday’s budget deliberations at City Hall. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald.

In a tight 5-4 vote, city council passed the 2019 budget at a special meeting Monday.

The total approved general fund budget is $67.6 million, a $1.8million increase from 2018. The city will require an additional $1.2 million from property taxes, representing a 3. 9 per cent mill rate increase.

“Once again we are not cutting any services. All programs remain intact and we will continue along the path of renewing Prince Albert’s old infrastructure and assets,” said Mayor Greg Dionne in a press release.

“It has been a priority of this Council to keep taxes low year over year and we have achieved that. If you look at our municipal neighbours in Saskatchewan, Prince Albert has the lowest 4 year average by far with most cities increasing taxes in the double digits.”

The budget had initially been defeated in December in a tie vote after Coun. Ted Zurakowski wasn’t able to attend. Councillors Charlene Miller, Terra Lennox-Zepp, Evert Botha and Dennis Nowoselsky voted against the document.

Lennox-Zepp took issue with the reallocation of surplus road funds from a dedicated levy into the general fund and lack of long-term planning.

Coun. Evert Botha was frustrated that the economic development officer position would remain vacant for another year and also took issue with the reallocation of the roadways surplus.

Nowoselsky, who missed the budget deliberations, was criticized by some councillors for skipping the debate only to vote against the document. Nowoselsky voted against the document because of the police budget.

Other councillors, such as Dennis Ogrodnick, criticized their counterparts for voting against the document in December.

The 2019 budget includes two new pedestrian bridges at Little Red River Park, a new score clock at the Steuart Arena, a Little Red River Park master plan, the reconstruction of the front parking lot at the Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse and a new city website.

The full budget summary is available at http://citypa.ca/GeneralFund.

–with files from Jason Kerr