by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent
with files from Jennifer Lavallee

The average Morinville homeowner can expect to pay $20 more next year for their property taxes. After over a month of the Town’s new budget process, the Town now has its 2017 Operating Budget, and Long-Range Capital Plan passed.

The passing comes following a budget open house event, an online citizen budget tool, and council-administration budget workshop meetings.

Council had a quick discussion and unanimously passed Third Reading of the 2017 Operating Budget and Long-Range Capital Plan with minimal changes. The only amendments made at Third Reading added a specific dollar amount dedicated to new roadwork in the South Glens development.

Councillor Boutestein moved the amendment to put in a $500,000 line item in the Capital Budget dedicated to roads in South Glens. The actual cost of the project is unknown and is subject to negotiations between Town Administration and the developers. Previously the item had no budget amount attached due to this uncertainty.

Third reading comes following a round of changes made in second reading that saw community grant funding in half ($10,000) from a motion by Councillor Dafoe. More than $200,000 were added in for various trail system and park improvements. Additionally, $52,000 was cut from the budget, removing the LAV III Monument project completely.

The budget in its current form posts a $656,523 deficit in the Town’s Tax-Supported Operational Budget. It is common practice for the Town to budget extremely conservatively, often posting actual budgets a million dollars or more higher than their budgeted amount. The consolidated budget, including normal tax operated Town services with utility services, posts a surplus of $901,699.

All of the detailed figures and budget items are available for residents to read on the Town’s websites, as with every year.

[SUBEAD] Budget means $20 increase in tax bill

Moderate budget increases across the board and some new projects mean that residents will be paying about $20 more in their property tax bill, about a 1 per cent increase, and below the Consumer Price Index. The actual increase including utility increases and education taxes is expected to be a $35 increase. This is a smaller per cent increase than last year at 3 per cent. Town Administration acknowledged the difficult economic circumstances many are in and claimed this year’s budget process was focused on keeping costs lower.

This year’s budget process went quicker than last year, where Council delayed passing Third Reading in order to take more time to incorporate additional changes.

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