City budget calls for 4.9 per cent property tax increase

Herald file photo.

The proposed 2020 municipal budget calls for nearly $1.5 million in increased spending and a property tax increase of 4.9 per cent, according to budget documents released on Wednesday.

The Roadways Recapping Program is the most expensive capital project in the budget, with a cost of more than $4.2 million next year. Other major spending proposals include $550,000 for the Pedestrian Bridge Replacement Program and $100,000 for the Playground Replacement Program.

The proposed 4.9 per cent increase is subject to change once general fund budget meetings being on Nov. 6.

“We face ongoing financial pressure as the cost of doing business continues to grow,” Financial Services Director Cheryl Tkachuk said in a media release. “Despite these pressures, we have been able to once again present a budget that allows us to sustain current service levels, maintain infrastructure investments and meet obligations to external stakeholders.”

Very few municipal organizations are slated to receive large funding increases next year. The Prince Albert Police Service’s 2020 budget request is one of the biggest. They’re asking for nearly $17.3 million, which amounts to a $595,000 funding increase from 2019. The city has also budgeted more than $320,000 in extra funding for the Prince Albert Fire Department due to salary increases.

The John M. Cuelenaere Pubic Library has requested nearly $2.1 million for 2020, which is roughly $92,000 more than they received in 2019. The Mann Art Gallery has not requested an increase in funding for next year.

There are several capital projects which will not receive funding, the biggest being an $8.8 million plan to build new facilities at the Municipal Service Centre (MSC) and move all Public Works and Community Services staff there from the Old City Yards.

There are four municipal organizations that have also had operational funding requests denied. Those include a $75,430 request fro the Community Service Centre to run a split shift for Special Needs Transportation, and $41,000 for Prince Albert Mobile Crisis’ Domestic Violence and Interpersonal Violence Unit.

As with the 4.9 per cent property tax increase, all capital and operational funding decisions can be reversed at city budget meetings in November. For every $300,000 in increased budget expenses the city will need a one per cent tax increase applied to the general mill rate to balance the budget.

As of Dec. 31, 2019, the City of Prince Albert will have roughly $22.1 million in external long-term debt. Annual debt servicing payments amount to roughly $2.2 million. The City will not have to borrow any more money as part of the 2020 proposed budget.