Upon conclusion of 2020 City budget deliberations, Grande Prairie City Council endorsed a number of budget recommendations from administration to keep Grande Prairie a safe, vibrant, and welcoming community that continues to prosper.
During the deliberations, some of the areas City Council funded in 2020 are $350,000 to continue driveway windrow snow removal, $4 million for Community Group Funding, and funding to keep the Muskoseepi Park Pavilion open during evenings and weekends.
Public safety remains a priority for Council, who funded the Grande Prairie Fire Department operating budget in the amount of $15.3 million and two additional RCMP officers at $320,000 as well as shifting three officers from ALERT positions to local priorities. City Council additionally allocated $250,000 for initiatives that will increase community safety and directed administration to report back to City Council with a plan to maximize the impact of the funds.
The City’s roadway and infrastructure needs for 2020 are funded at a total of $37.7 million. This encompasses all aspects of capital and operating expenses related to maintaining a safe and reliable public infrastructure network such as new and upgraded roads and pedestrian links, traffic control, asphalt and pothole repair, snow and ice control, and other maintenance activities.
Council approved phase 4 of the Downtown Rehabilitation and Streetscapes Project for construction in the summer of 2021. The project will see core underground infrastructure such as sanitary, water, and storm pipes replaced as well as improve above ground streetscape elements to increase accessibility.
To support social needs in the community, City Council approved $30,000 for ongoing facility costs of a daytime homeless shelter made possible by a $1 million contribution the Rotary Club of Grande Prairie. In addition, the Sunrise House Youth Emergency Shelter will receive $500,000 in combined monetary and gift-in-kind funding.
Nearly $200,000 was allocated to administration to expedite accessibility initiatives at City facilities.
As well, the Eastlink Centre was funded for 2020 in the amount of $4.4 million.
Impact to the City of Grande Prairie
"Following our 2019 property tax reset year where we approved a 4.1% tax decrease, the 2020 budget year was no less challenging. Provincial budget reductions increased complexity and required Council to closely consider what services Grande Prairie residents value the most," said Grande Prairie Mayor, Bill Given. "In order to achieve a tax increase lower than the rate of inflation, Council reduced levels of service in some areas and the size of our organization overall, while re-focusing City resources on core community priorities such as infrastructure and community safety."
Upon ratification, the total impact to the 2020 City budget is a $5.56 million reduction resulting in a 1.25% tax adjustment that is aligned with Council’s previous direction to administration to prepare the 2020 budget with a tax adjustment that does not exceed, plus or minus, 1% of the best estimation of inflation.
City Council also approved over $3 million in transfers to the Financial Stabilization Reserve that is important to stabilize tax rates and protect the City and its residents from unexpected costs in the future.
The 2020 budget follows a 4.1% tax reduction for 2019. The 2020 budget is year two of a four-year budget cycle that was approved in 2018.
The 2020 City Budget will receive final ratification at a future council meeting before the end of the year.