Whitecourt Town Council has approved the 2023 Interim Operating and Capital Budget.
“This has been a challenging budget t develop when you consider that the municipality is dealing with continued reductions in provincial and intermunicipal funding, inflation costs that we have not seen in over 35 years, continued increases in the cost of living, new federal carbon tax increases, and increased policing costs. This budget reflects the community’s desire to maintain current services, and ensure that we are prepared to meet our community’s growing needs in the future,“ stated Whitecourt Mayor Tom Pickard.
The Interim Budget includes over $49 million in capital and operating expenditures, and proposes a 6.49% overall tax change. The budget has incorporated $3.275 million in reductions from 2019 to 2022, and includes funding to maintain service levels and continue with investment in local infrastructure. The 2023 Interim Budget Report can be viewed on the Whitecourt website at www.whitecourt.ca/your-town.
“It’s important for the community to know that Council still has work to do before the final budget is adopted and tax rates are finalized,” added Mayor Pickard. “Town Council has directed Administration to research options that could reduce the 2023 rate for final budget consideration, and these options will be reviewed early in the new year.”
2023 Capital Budget Highlights:
- The 2023 Street Improvement Program includes street, lighting, and sidewalk repairs at locations throughout the community.
- Completion of the extension of 50 Street/Legion Street from downtown into Rotary Park to increase safety and access into the Park.
- Following funding approval of $15.6 million for the construction of an Arts & Culture Centre and new library from the Investing in Canadian Infrastructure Program, a partnership/sponsorship campaign was initiated in 2022 and an update will be provided to Council on funding for the proposed project so that further decisions can be made regarding the facility.
2023 Operating Budget Highlights:
- Continued collaboration and development of new agreements based on the arbitration decision with Woodlands County for services that benefit residents of both municipalities.
- Completion of the review of the Municipal Development Plan and Land Use Bylaw, and adoption of the North Flats Area Structure Plan that will help to guide development in the community.
- Whitecourt will launch a new app for transit users at the end of 2023 as the current version of the Transloc App, the app that tracks Whitecourt Transit buses, is being phased out.
- Continue to act as an Alberta Advantage Immigration Program “Designated Community” under the Rural Renewal Program and Entrepreneur Streams. These programs will support workforce development by helping to address long-term labour shortages by attracting newcomers; and encourage new investment in Whitecourt by attracting entrepreneurs and new businesses.
The 2023 Budget will be finalized in the spring of 2023 once the Provincial budget is adopted, and final assessment figures are established. Specific tax rate impacts will vary by property type depending on the assessed value of a home or business, and will be determined once the final budget is adopted.