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North Battleford looking at 7.48 percent tax increase

North Battleford also looking at three percent utilities increase
NB City Hall 1
Budget deliberations in North Battleford begin on Monday and will continue Thursday, both over the Zoom platform.

NORTH BATTLEFORD - Taxpayers in North Battleford could be looking at substantial tax increases in the 2022 budget.

The draft budget document has been released on the city’s website and administration is proposing an overall 7.48 percent increase on the operations side. 

Administration is also proposing a three percent increase in utilities, while the proposal is for waste management to see a four percent increase. 

No other increases are being proposed for areas such as underground pipes and asphalt replacement or the recreation capital levy.

In speaking to reporters prior to the release of the budget Friday, City Manager Randy Patrick cited a significant increase in RCMP staff costs as driving the costs upward.

Negotiations had been ongoing between the federal government and the RCMP and the city estimated the impact to be $1 million.

That alone would be a 6.94 percent increase, but after considerable efforts made to reduce the cost within the contract, the cost increase for the 2022 budget is now estimated at $737,534, or equivalent to a 4.98 percent increase.

An additional 2.5 percent increase is also being proposed for required wage increases and also to take into account what is described as rapidly rising inflationary pressures projected for 2022.

As for the utilities increase of three percent, borrowing on the Sanitary Sewer Force Main project is the driving factor. Administration is also proposing a phased in approach with additional increases over the next three years.

The proposed budget now goes to council for budget deliberations next week. The first is a Planning Committee meeting on the budget Monday night from 5:15 p.m. to around 9 p.m., and a Special Planning Meeting has been scheduled for next Thursday starting at 5:15 p.m. that evening. 

The hope is to get the majority of budget discussions wrapped up in those two sessions and then have the budget come to council for approval at their regular meeting Dec. 13. If another deliberation session is needed, that can be scheduled.

The schedule for Monday's budget session is as follows: general overview of budget, followed by General Government Services, Police Services, Planning and Development (including UPAR), and Public Works. As it stands, the Thursday session will include remaining items including presentations on third party grant requests.

It should be cautioned that right now the tax increases are only proposals from administration at this stage; council will make the final decision and could still make changes.

Both of the budget meetings on Monday and Thursday will be held on the Zoom platform.