Tomorrow night, town administration will be using a different approach to introducing its 2024 budget draft than we've seen in recent years.
Key highlights will be presented on a draft budget that calls for a 3.45 per cent increase in residential property taxes, amounting to an annual increase of $89 for a home assessed at $561,200. The administration says inflation accounts for three per cent of the proposed increase.
When utility rate changes are taken into account, it's a total annual increase of $213.48 for the average home assessment. It calls for a 12.4 per cent increase in the average annual water bill, and 13.3 per cent increase in the average sewer bill.
A detailed overview will be provided to explain the rationale used in its preparation. It will also swiftly be followed by an administration-led draft budget public consultation on Oct. 26 and 27 at the SLS Centre.
Taking control of the budget conversation has been stressed by Mayor Jeff Genung at recent meetings, believing last year's conversation was hijacked by media and social media.
But that wasn't the only concern expressed over the 2023 budget deliberations. A task force was created by council to improve upon the entire process. The first recommendations of that task force are being incorporated, and more are anticipated for future deliberations.
The budget is being clearly identified as the administration's draft budget that is being provided to council in a "working document" format. It will include FTE counts and clear identification of year-over-year variances with the goal of greater understanding, transparency and function for deliberation and debate.
The introduction of the draft budget is only a part of what is anticipated to be a long evening.
There's a public hearing on the proposed Rolling Trails area redevelopment plan that has left its residents divided. In advance of the hearing, the town received 15 letters of objection from residents within the planning area and 10 in support.
Besides the budget draft, council will also discuss Councillor Tara McFadden's notice of motion to require council members to file a disclosure statement detailing the names of people, corporations, or partnerships in which a councillor has an interest and to update it annually.
It is also council's annual organizational meeting to establish the deputy mayor rotation, and appoint councillors to town committees and partnerships.
Council's regularly scheduled Oct. 23 meeting was postponed until Oct. 24 to allow for some town officials, including the mayor, to attend the Community Builder Gala being held tonight to honour Barry Mjolsness, of Spray Lake Sawmills.