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Downtown Rehabilitation

Downtown Rehabilitation

This week, Downtown Rehabilitation was discussed at a council committee. The Downtown Association wants to see this project move forward. I thought I'd take the opportunity to re-post and clarify my opinion.

During budget deliberations, Council was presented with options to undertake Phase 4 of this project in 2019. The presented options would’ve seen the City spending up to $28,000,000 this year. The large majority of that would’ve been financed through debt.

Council chose NOT to go ahead with this work for now. However, it also directed administration to come back with options to improve the surface looks of 100 Ave without tearing up the roads. I supported this course of action. I do believe some modest investment in improving the looks of the east end of 100 Ave is worthwhile. But with the information I have right now, it would be irresponsible to support borrowing tens of millions of dollars to go ahead with Phase 4 at this time.

Are taxes really going down?

Are taxes really going down?

I’ve had a few people over the past week say something like “my taxes went up, I thought they were going down, what’s up with that!?”

So to be clear: the tax rate for 2019 has not been set yet. But we are still projecting that the municipal portion of property taxes owed by an average property will go down. The target reduction is 4.1%. This target was set in November and I am not aware of anyone from the City thinking it should change.

So then, what is going on here? Why are people’s taxes apparently going up?

People I’m talking to are seeing their assessments and/or monthly Tax Installment Payment Plan (TIPP) payments going up. However, these going up does not necessarily mean that someone will be paying more in 2019 than they did in 2018.

Below is some information about why we do taxes the way we do. After that I explain why assessments and TIPP payments don’t tell the full story.

Grande Prairie Storm Requests

Grande Prairie Storm Requests

Yesterday the Community Living Committee discussed the Grande Prairie Storm. They've been working hard to strengthen their operations, and have had a lot of success (for example, this season they've reported a 63% increase in ticket sales, a 28% increase in corporate sponsorship, and an increase in fundraising). The team feels that it is on a path to long-term sustainability. They've asked the City to help them along.

Provincial Police Act Review

Provincial Police Act Review

Since November, I have been attending regular meetings hosted by the province. It is doing consultation in regards to updating the Police Act. I've learned a lot and have appreciated the opportunity to advocate for the City.

This Thursday, I'll be at a meeting about Roles and Responsibilities. Next week I'll be going to a meeting about Policy and Oversight. There will be a lot of questions discussed, but the two most important [in my mind]:

1) WHAT ROLES SHOULD POLICE OFFICERS HAVE IN THE COMMUNITY?

2) WHAT ROLE DO YOU EXPECT LOCAL OFFICIALS TO HAVE IN POLICE OVERSIGHT?

Budget 2019: Downtown Rehabilitation

Budget 2019: Downtown Rehabilitation

Budget deliberations are this week. Council will be debating whether or not to proceed with the next phase of the Downtown Rehabilitation….

Phase 4 centers on 100 Ave and 100 St. Council will be presented an option to do just 2 blocks of 100 Ave (from 100 St to Resources Road which is from CIBC to Co-op) or to do that plus two blocks of 100 St (from 99 Ave to 101 Ave which is from Wendy’s to Titos).

Aquatera would likely fund a portion of this cost, but at this time most of it would likely need to be financed through borrowing.

Budget 2019: Revenue and Cashflow

Budget 2019: Revenue and Cashflow

Often the central conversations about municipal budgets revolve around residential property rates. I’d suggest that we should have a much larger conversation about the budget.

In 2018, residential properties only accounted for a little over 50% of the total tax levies in Grande Prairie. They funded about 25% of the total capital and operating budgets. While it is very important for Council to be aware of residential tax rates, there are many other sources of revenue and factors which effect cash flow. All of these need to be considered when creating the budget.

Budget 2019: Getting to 0%

Budget 2019: Getting to 0%

This week I published two very optimistic blog posts. One outlined my four goals: to increase funding for crime, roads, and Leisure Centre planning without raising taxes. The other outlined City initiatives that will help us better spend and target money. I feel very optimistic about the upcoming budget.

That being said, I also do want to acknowledge a challenge before us. There are added expenses and financial pressures in 2019 that did not exist in 2018.