The survey was completed as a key component of the 2022-2024 budget process. The intention is to use the feedback provided to guide the creation of the draft 2022-2024 budget and provide Council a sufficient opportunity to understand and consider community input.
“The information collected through this survey helps to guide Town resources as we look ahead to 2022,” said Katherine Van Keimpema, General Manager of Corporate Services. “A few key themes emerged from the survey results. While most respondents are satisfied with current service levels, just under 50% support a tax increase to maintain or enhance services. Almost 70% support the use of tax dollars to build reserves and save for the future. And the top four places to consider allocating additional funds include: Parks and Open Spaces, Roads, Infrastructure projects and Community Services.”
In previous budget cycles, the Town has invited community input in the fall once the draft budget has been presented to Council. The intent of the engagement was to provide the community an opportunity to comment on the draft budget – including the specific projects and initiatives identified – and consider the proposed impact to property tax rates required to support that budget. This change in process provides the opportunity for the community to guide Town staff in determining how and where tax dollars should be allocated, and if there is a need for additional funding to support these services, how the Town should consider funding it.
The survey invited participants to provide feedback on funding options to support the delivery of Town services. These options included the reduction of services, postponing infrastructure projects, increasing residential or business property taxes, increasing existing user fees, or introducing new user fees. Service reductions and increasing business property taxes responses were almost equally split between supporting and opposing. The majority oppose increasing current user fees, postponing infrastructure projects, or increasing residential property taxes. The results demonstrated a majority support for the introduction of new user fees.
Four hundred and ninety-four residents participated in the survey, which ran from April 19 to May 14.
Council supported the information presented and directed Administration to consider the survey results as work begins on the 2022-2024 budget.
The Town budget is developed over the summer by Administration and a draft is presented to Council every fall; the draft budget outlines collective goals for short- and long-term priorities that make Cochrane a desirable place to live. The budget is then debated in November and finalized by Council in December and guides service level decisions for the coming three years.
For more information on the budget process and to find out about future feedback opportunities, go to cochrane.ca/Budget.
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