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Blackfalds unveils budget details

 Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe

When the Town of Blackfalds 2018 operating and capital budgets go before council, they’ll be looking at 1.1 per cent property tax increase.

The figure represents an additional nine dollars of tax on a home assessed at $100,000, which council feels is reasonable.

“We asked (administration) put forward a budget that was approximately equal to the CPI (Consumer Price Index),” said Town of Blackfalds Mayor Richard Poole.

“Throughout Alberta we’re finding that 1.1 is the increase we pay on everything we do. Of course, gas is going up much more than that, but when we look at bills we pay day-to-day, that 1.1 is going to be included in it.”

The City of Lacombe is also aiming to keep in line with the CPI with their proposed increase of 1.3 per cent. Sylvan Lake is proposing a combined 1.97 per cent for residential and non-residential properties.

Last year, Blackfalds saw an increase of 0.7 per cent with an operating budget of $25-million.

This year’s budget is $33.4-million with a $26.6-million operating budget. A total of $6.9-million has been set aside for the capital budget.

Much of the focus in the capital budget this year is on recreational projects, primarily architectural design and construction plans for the twinning of the Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena, and the creation of a new outdoor rink on Pine Crescent, totalling $750,000 and $450,000 respectively.

“There’s a lot of recreation in there,” he said. “Our community really tries to engage our citizens in the recreational aspect.

“I’m really looking forward to the sketchings of the second ice facility. That will allow us to move forward and have a good discussion with the public about what we want to do.”

The Northwest Area Storm project, which will see stormwater filtered through Aspen lakes into Lacombe Lake is also in the budget for $1,500,000.

The project had some Lacombe Lake residents up in arms, concerned over the health of the lake as well as rising water levels.

“We’re excited about the opportunity of working with Lacombe County on engaging the public.” Poole said. “We just heard tonight there are some questions Alberta Environment came back with so we’ll have to answer those before we move forward.”

A big highlight of the draft capital budget, however, is no new debt for the town.

While Blackfalds is making payments on debentures, they’re not taking any new ones on at this time for projects.

“It’s exciting, but we move forward cautiously,” he said.

A Budget Open House was held by council on Wednesday night at the Civic and Cultural Centre prior to Light Up Blackfalds festivities. Any feedback received by the town will be collected and any items for consideration will by provided to council at their regular meeting on Dec. 12.

The budget is set to be finalized before Dec. 31, 2017. 

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