Whitecourt Town Council adopted the 2019 Interim Budget at their meeting Monday night.
The 2019 Interim Capital and Operating Budget for the Town of Whitecourt includes a 3.09% overall tax increase.
Council noted they were mindful of taxpayers, looking at which projects they could defer, and where they could hold expenses and reduce costs.
Mayor Maryann Chichak says the 2019 budget is a “hold the line budget” with no big projects anticipated for the next year.
Despite small increases in rates for services such as water, sewer and waste management, as well as an increase to the franchise fee rate, Chichak says they tried to keep costs minimal and the overall service rates are still substantially lower than those of other Alberta towns and cities.
Mayor Chichak explains trying to keep fees in check.
Water and sewer for Whitecourt run on a 100% cost recovery system to ensure sustainability. For monthly water costs based on 20 cubic metres of use, the fixed rate is increasing $0.34 to $7.23 a month, and the usage increasing $1.52 to be $24.40 a month.
The fixed sewer rate is also increasing $0.34 to be $7.23 a month, and the usage increasing $1.29 to cost $27.60 a month. Total water and sewer costs will be $66.46 for 2019, up from $62.97 in 2018. That is still below the monthly average of $83.79.
Waste management is also based on a 100% cost recovery system. The automated waste collection fees are increasing $0.63, the landfill disposal rate is increasing $0.77 and the blue bag recycling fees are increasing $0.92 for a total monthly cost of $30.02 for 2019 from $27.70 in 2018.
Rates are adjusted by Alberta Environment and Chichak says Whitecourt does well in having minimal water and wastewater rates each year.
The final budget for the town will be approved in April, once budgets from the Provincial and Federal governments are released, and the town hears from all their partners.