A draft of the town's three-year budget is projecting property taxes will rise by 1.27 per cent in 2021, 4.29 per cent in 2022, and 5.71 per cent in 2023.

While it's still in the early stages of budget deliberations, if adopted as presented, the estimated impact in 2021 on the average home, assessed at $470,100 is an increase of $65.04 over this year, including town utility. Compared to today, taxes for an average home in 2023 would be $264 higher.

Currently, municipal taxes on a home assessed at $470,100 is $2,274 (not including school taxes). By 2023, the proposed budget calls for them to increase to $2,538.

Last night, town council received a draft budget from town administration that will kick off further consultation with councillors and the public.

Katherine Van Keimpema, the town's general manager of Corporate Services, called it a rainy day budget.

"We recognize that 2021 is a rainy day year. It's kind of a perfect storm where we have the economic impact of the oil gas industry, COVID, and many other things. So what we also had for philosophy is we needed to focus on our core services, and existing staff."

There won't be any new positions and some current vacancies won't be filled, including seven seasonal park staff, an asset management coordinator, and a civil land tech.

It calls for no salary/wage increases for non-union staff and management.

Council also heard how slower growth, in combination with the new service demands and insufficient historical tax increases has created a significant financial gap that must be corrected.

A total of $49.4 million in capital projects are proposed. Besides road corridors, it includes the long-anticipated new protective services building in the Heartland neighbourhood and the transit hub building on Railway St.

Total expenditures are budgeted at $60,789,856, an increase of $1,482,284 from 2020.

This wasn't the time for councillors to provide feedback on the budget draft. They are now taking time to review its contents and are slated to debate the budget for up to three days, from Nov. 16 to 18. Feedback is being accepted from residence through the Let's Talk Cochrane website.until Nov. 12.

Approval of the final version is anticipated for Dec. 14.