Maintaining services in challenging economic times and continuing to plan for the future are key goals supported by the draft budget.
Funding for some community groups in the operating budget was increased:
• Cochrane Activettes: to $15,000 from $12,240
• Cochrane Public Library: to $532, 239 from $457,239
• Cochrane Victim Services: to $50,000 from $25,500
• Rockyview Regional Handibus Society: to $168,317 from $122,437
• Community grants: to $65,000 from $50,000 (a tier policy will be also be developed)
No increases are proposed for water, wastewater, storm sewer, solid waste or recycling utility rates. There is a 4% increase proposed for building permit fees.
Council maintained the proposed staffing amounts of 0.6% cost of living and grid step adjustments for eligible staff in addition to the 2.13% for firefighters as per the collective agreement. They also retained the three staffing positions requested and increased hours for some part-time and casual positions.
Council did not make any changes to the financing for the aquatic and curling/multisport centre. Council assigned $1.4 million from a portion of the Old Town Hall Site sale proceeds to the funding strategy for the facility.
Council increased amounts in the capital budget for SLS Family Sports Centre improvements, including funding for an elevator and reserve funding from facility lifecycling. Council added new amounts for paving and the facility’s main plant heat exchanger.
Council adjusted the projected 2017 growth rate to 2.5% from 2%, resulting in a 0.5% increase in property tax revenue to offset some of the adjustments.
Town administration also provided Council with the public feedback gathered in advance of their deliberations.
Council receives the revised budget for approval December 12.