Town Administration presented the draft 2022-2024 budget to Council on Monday, November 8. The draft budget reflects community feedback received in the spring of 2021, and recognizes the inflationary costs associated with providing services and delivering on capital projects.
As our community has continued to grow and evolve, and the expectation for innovative, customer-focused service delivery has increased, Town administration has been challenged to keep pace, operationally and financially. This budget is the next step to becoming appropriately sized and funded.
“Earlier this year, we asked Cochrane residents to help us to determine where to focus your tax dollars, to ensure we are providing the appropriate level of service,” said Town of Cochrane Chief Administrative Officer Mike Derricott. “While we heard a variety of response, the overarching message was the need to continue to provide the level of service that Cochranites have come to know and expect.”
Respondents indicated clear priorities of well-maintained parks, pathways and green spaces; efficient roadways; available emergency services; and abundant and affordable recreation opportunities. This year’s budget is focused on creating a complete community and reflects the costs of maintaining current services. The budget ensures we can continue to provide quality services today, save for our future needs, and deliver on the projects that will support us both now and into the future.
“From 2011-2021, Cochrane’s population more than doubled, while our operating budget has remained relatively consistent,” explained Derricott. “As we invest in new parks and pathways, or add new roadways, we also need the appropriate equipment to maintain them and the required staff complement to operate the equipment. In addition, we need the supporting staff in information technology services, finance, human resources and communications to ensure that our technology systems are functioning, our day-to-day finances are in order, our staff are supported, and our community is informed and engaged.”
Currently, the Town of Cochrane has one of the lowest operating expenditures per dwelling unit in Alberta. In comparison to other similar-sized Alberta municipalities, Cochrane spends $3,757 per dwelling unit, with the next lowest comparator of High River at $4,332.
The proposed increase equates to $13/month for the average residential property. This increase reflects several uncontrollable cost increases such as pre-bargained union staff increases, a decrease in provincial government grants and the increased cost of RCMP services as a result of the federal government union negotiations. Cochrane has also seen significant increases to inflationary costs related to the procurement of goods and services, fuel costs required to operate Town equipment, and utility costs to heat and power facilities.
The capital budget focuses on supporting Council’s strategic priorities, with a significant focus on transportation solutions and utility-related infrastructure to support our growing community. This includes the completion of the Highway 1A project, a significant investment in our utility infrastructure including the purchase of additional water licences, and the purchase of new fleet equipment including a snowplow to ensure ongoing service delivery.
Council will debate the budget on November 15, 22, 23 and 25. The community is invited to provide their feedback to Council on the draft budget from November 9 to 18 by visiting letstalkcochrane.ca/Budget. The feedback provided will be presented to Council on November 22. The final budget will be adopted by Council on December 13, 2021.
More information is available at cochrane.ca/Budget.