When the town developed its budget based on the idea of a four per cent growth in the assessment they proved to be overly optimistic and the end result is a projected $97,000 shortfall for 2018.

The town calculates the growth in the assessment to be 3.7 per cent, leaving the town short on its budget (municipalities are not allowed to budget a deficit). Town administration provided a number of options to cover the cost through tax increases but with pushback from some councillors the funds instead were derived from the town's tax stabilization reserve.

By doing so the tax increase being faced by Cochrane property owners remain at 3.06 per cent. The average Cochrane household will pay $2,200 in municipal taxes. That doesn't include taxes paid for the annual and large requisition for education and small requisition of the Rocky View Seniors Foundation. Nor does it include the franchise fees for gas and power or utility bills for water/wastewater and recycling.

An extensive presentation was received by Paige Milner, senior manager of corporate services, explaining how the town equates the assessment to funds needed for the budget. She outlined three ways to generate the $97,000, all resulting in tax increases to residential and nonresidential or both.

Councillor Morgan Nagel said he was strongly opposed to increasing the taxes more than what was already agreed upon and wanted to hold the line. He says he firmly believes if the economy is growing slowly so should government expenditures.

Councillor Marni Fedeyko questioned why council was not originally presented the option to take the funds out of the stabilization fund instead of options that all called for tax increases.

Nor was council given the option to find $97,000 in savings. Some also questioned whether the funds could be taken from the $584,525 surplus from 2017 that was reported just prior to the shortfall question.

Chief Administrative Officer Dave Devana explained by reducing expenditures by $97,000 the town would, in essence, start 2019 that equivalent amount in the hole. If it continued, the town would find itself with an accumulative shortfall that could start to have a negative impact on operations.

He did, however, agree with the idea of taking the funds out of the tax stabilization fund because it was a small amount but wouldn't agree if the shortfall was in the $500,000 neighbourhood.

Administration had recommended upping both the residential and nonresidential taxes and it would have pushed the increase to 3.47 per cent from 3.06 per cent.

The town has $778,000 in tax stabilization reserve.