Golden town council adopted the 2021 budget and five-year financial plan at its April 20 meeting, with the approved budget including a five per cent spending increase for 2021.
It follows last year’s budget, where the tax hike was kept at zero in recognition of the economic impact of COVID-19.
The five per cent increase won’t necessarily translate to a five per cent increase in property taxes.
“In 2020, we saw unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as a municipality and as a community,” said Mayor Ron Oszust.
“The five per cent increase in 2021 will ensure the town keeps up with inflation, maintains service levels for our community and ensures reserves are adequate to absorb any further financial shocks in a pandemic environment.”
The budget also has a focus on increasing reserves to provide funding for the renewal of town assets and maintaining levels of services for residents.
The budget process was informed by an online survey, which was introduced for the first time this year, as part of the public consultation process in addition to a virtual open house and traditional methods.
The information collected from the survey helped inform council’s decisions in adopting the budget and financial plan, which the town says fell in line with the feedback that they received through the process.
The single residential water and sewer rate will increase by five per cent for water and five per cent for sewer, which will equal about $2.83 a month for a single residential property.
Other notable expenditures include the final phase of the Kicking Horse Dike Improvement project to be completed by July, which was entirely grant funded; the downtown plaza (in front of the Post Office), which will see a complete redesign this fall; the replacement of the community entrance sign along Reflection Lake; and a fire truck replacement.
The town will also be asking permission in a formal process this spring to borrow funds to help fund the complete renewal of the streetscape from IGA to the Downtown Carwash.
The town will be using this as a line of credit to help fund the project when needed, a process that will ensure the people using the new infrastructure are the ones who are paying for it.
Following the budget and financial plan process, council adopted the 2021 Tax Rates Bylaw on May 4.
Set over several classes of property, tax rates determine how much each property class contributes to the budget.
“We were extra careful this year,” explained Oszust.
“We looked at the assessments for business and residential properties and the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic.”
This year, the residential rate is up by one per cent and business is down two per cent from last year to reflect this. The town will also introduce a redesigned property tax notice to help property owners better understand their tax bill, including the other authorities the town must collect on behalf of.
“2021 will be both an exciting and challenging year for our community,” said Golden chief administrative officer, Jon Wilsgard.
“We’ve been very fortunate to receive a number of small and large grants addressing both core infrastructure and community improvements.
“The pandemic will still be with us but we are trying to ensure that the improvements we are making today will help in our economic recovery and long term sustainability.”
The town is also rolling out its short-term rental regulations.
For more information and details on the 2021 budget and 2021-2025 financial plan, visit the town’s website golden.ca/budget.