At the February 23, 2021 Council meeting, Kneehill County Council approved the 2021 Operating and Capital Budget. A series of financial reports presented during the meeting detailed the County's current financial status, past and anticipated fiscal challenges, and the rigorous budgetary process Council and administration have undertaken over the last few months, focused on containing costs and implementing best practices, with the goal of demonstrating leadership in financial management.
Council’s guiding principles, used in the preparation of the annual budget, include:
- Maintaining existing service levels
- Improving customer service
- Keeping tax rates competitive
- Incorporating a proactive infrastructure renewal plan
- Identifying and incorporating efficiencies
- Ensuring rates and fees for services are appropriate
Due to the current and recent past economic environment, the approach to the annual operating budget had an even greater focus on financial constraint and tightening the budget, which was accomplished through the following actions:
- Freezing most account budgets at 2018 levels unless cost pressures were documented
- A strict process to evaluate funding requests
- A thorough multi-layered review process
- Reinforced priorities through business planning and best practices
Council and Administration have also implemented a number of measures to cut costs while increasing efficiency and effectiveness of program delivery, without impacting service levels. A sample of these measures are listed below. (For a full listing, please see the Fiscal Report.)
- Reduction of two (2) permanent positions and seasonal positions saving $240,000 annually.
- Selection of Amendments to benefit plans and carrier contracts saving $140,000 annually.
- Council compensation reductions in excess of $52,000 incorporated within 2021 budget.
- Optimizing grader beats to insource work reducing external contract savings over $200,000. This includes a reduction of full-time positions, three contract graders, and seasonal staffing.
Like all municipalities across Alberta, in particular rural municipalities, the implications of provincial policy have reduced County revenues significantly. Council and administration have balanced these issues, and after a long history of no tax increases, have implemented some modest increases to help transition through these very difficult times. (Tax Rates will be confirmed when the Tax Rate Bylaw is passed.)
- Increasing the Farmland Tax Rate - Typical impact of $37 on farmland with an assessment value of $30,000.
- Increasing the Residential Tax Rate - Typical impact of $20 to $62 on properties with assessed values ranging from $100,000-$300,000.
- Non- Residential tax burdens will be impacted at a rate similar to the residential increase (based on assessment)
Please see the slideshow below for more information, and click the links below to view: