In a year where its revenue is expected to drop 10.6 per cent, Rocky View County (RVC) has produced a budget that calls for a 0.5 per cent increase in taxes.
County departments sharpened their pencil for a year heavily impacted by COVID-19, downloaded costs from the province, and continuing challenges in Alberta's oil patch.
All Alberta counties are facing higher policing costs, and less revenue from oil and gas companies because of measures taken by the provincial government.
"Different grants have also been eliminated from cuts to the provincial spending, and that was a big part of it as well," says RVC Reeve Dan Henn.
Yet he hates to use the word "download" when it comes to talking about provincial government cuts.
"They looked at it from provincial residents, and we look at it from county residents. They're doing their best, and we're doing our best. Everybody can blame everybody but at the end of the day there just isn't the same amount of money to go around anymore."
Reeve Henn says it was the county staff who deserve the credit for preventing the tax load from creeping up. Other than a few items here and there, he says council's deliberations were relatively straightforward.
"To be honest, council got the easy part. Our administration did a tremendous job of just sort of thinking outside the box and coming up with ways to save money that really didn't have any adverse effects on our residents."
The operating budget for 2021 will be $194 million and nearly $14 million has been slated for capital projects. Approximately $73, less than half are funded through municipal property taxes.
The budget includes $2.9 million in road improvements and over $5.5 million in flood management projects. The capital budget also calls for improvements to outdoor recreational amenities, including playground improvements in Langdon and off-leash dog areas in Bearspaw and East Balzac.
To help reduce costs, landowners in Langdon, Harmony, and Watermark will be responsible for snow removal from sidewalks in from of their properties, similar to the majority of communities in western Canada. The county is also reducing its vegetation control program on roadsides through the municipality.
A salary freeze will continue to be implemented for both council and county staff.
The 2021 budget falls on the tail of a year when the county reduced property taxes by three per cent. Over recent years, zero per cent increases have become commonplace for the county.
The approved budget will be posted on the county website in mid-December.