Chamber applauds city council for reducing tax burden this year

On the heels of the 2020 Operating Budget being approved this week, the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce says it is encouraged by city council’s willingness to reduce the tax burden on city residents and businesses.

The budget comes with a projected 1.26 property tax increase that is expected to fall to 0.97% once the city finds an additional $400,000 in cost savings by this spring.

“Overall it is promising to see city council and staff members taking actions to alleviate the cost of doing business in our city,” says Chamber CEO Rick More. “It has been a long-time ask by our chamber that the city take a hard look at costs, focus on competitiveness, business friendliness and reducing the tax burden on our local job creators.”

The Chamber says it acknowledges that neither reducing the capital contribution nor the transfer to operating reserves are a sustainable or long-term solution to tax competitiveness, but are the right call for the time.

“As we enter yet another year of this economic downturn, the number of business closures combined with those on the verge of shutting their doors and the exodus of business from our downtown core, the last thing we needed was another substantial tax increase,” More says. “We will continue to encourage the city to focus on more efficient program and service delivery that result in long-term cost savings but maintains our core services.”

Prior to budget deliberations the chamber provided a written submission to council encouraging them to “align municipal priorities with the province’s stated direction of job creation and growing the economy.” The chamber says these focus areas are especially pertinent given prior government messaging that municipal funding will be awarded based on this alignment.

“It is also encouraging to see that council directed the City Manager Seabrooke to find an additional $400,000 in savings, but important to note that equates to approximately one-tenth of a percent of total operational spending. In a household with a $75,000 annual budget its equivalent to finding just $77 in savings.” More noted.

“We’re confident that in a nearly $400 million budget there is significant room to reduce spending. By setting conditions that allow local business to thrive, our entire community will benefit from increased job opportunities and a strong local economy.”

(With file from media release)