After two days of intense scrutiny, town council has proposed operational cuts to the 2020 Cochrane budget that could drop the tax increase to 1.9 per cent.

Mayor Jeff Genung calls it the hardest budget he's worked on. It will see some operational cuts but preserved 100 per cent of the capital projects. The town has a hefty capital plan to improve transportation infrastructure, build a new law enforcement detachment and develop a transit/innovation incubator (see link below).

"You couple the economic climate of the province with what Cochrane families are going through, and then add the pressure of having to produce on transportation infrastructure upgrades, it's a delicate balancing act," says Genung.

He says the discussions weren't heated but difficult all the same.

Should the budget be approved at the Dec. 9 council meeting, it's projected the property tax increase will be 1.93 per cent, down from the original draft that estimated a 2.95 per cent increase.

For the average home that will amount to an annual increase of $43.20 per year, compared to a $66 increase in the original draft.

Operational cuts were found across the board.

"I don't want to make them sound like they were insignificant, because some of them affected staff and people."

"It's just the reality of the [economic] climate that we're living in right now. Council wanted to be sensitive to that in this budget. I think we've landed in a good compromise position."

"This whole budget was about implementing plans to move Cochrane into the future, but at the same time trying to be sensitive to the wallets and bank accounts of Cochrane residents."

The tech incubator centre proposed to be completed in conjunction with the transit hub on Railway St. remains in the budget so far.

"Basically, the line item was left alone on the budget with the understanding a more wholesome discussion will happen in December."

The budget remains in the draft form until ratified by council.