NORTH BATTLEFORD - The 2024 budget deliberations have begun in North Battleford and the residents are once again looking at some steep tax increases next year.
The proposed budget released on Friday afternoon, and presented at deliberations on Monday night at City Hall by Director of Finance Margarita Pena, sees a property tax increase of 5.12 per cent, an increase for Waste Management (recycling and garbage collection) of 4.4 per cent, a Water Services hike of 4.5 per cent, and a hike for Sanitary Sewer of four per cent.
The anticipated RCCF Levy for 2024 will remain the same as 2023. For UPAR, there is also no increase with a budget of $5,265,585 is anticipated for 2024, according to the budget document.
The 2024 budget also includes a targeted dollar savings of $300,000 on staffing vacancies, a decrease of $34,000 compared to the previous year. The city is also paying $2.69 million in long term debt payments and $1.18 million in interest in 2024.
The tax and fee increases are only proposals from administration at the moment, with final amounts still to be determined during the budget deliberations which continue on Nov. 23 and 30.
Based on past years’ deliberations it would be a good bet to assume the numbers will change somewhat before the final budget goes to council for adoption, likely in December. The initial indication from Monday's meeting is that some potential cost savings may have been identified that could adjust downward the tax increases.
As for reasons behind the increases, city administration stated in the budget document that inflation and supply chain challenges, as well as aging infrastructure, are primary concerns.
Monday night’s budget deliberations at City Hall concentrated primarily on General Government Services and Parks and Recreation. For general government, revenue is projected to increase by $174,500 while expenses are projected to increase by $182,298.
For Parks and Recreation, overall revenues are expected to increase by $67,388 in 2024 but expenses are expected to increase even more, by $289,103, according to the budget document.
Deliberations will resume again Thursday night at 5 p.m. with topics including Police Services, Fire and Protective Services, and Operation Services including Infrastructure, Waste Management, Water, and Sanitary Sewer.