Humboldt council accepted a budget that will see an additional $143,000 collected in taxes next year – a two per cent increase.
There will also be a two per cent increase to utilities, which amounts to $82,000.
Last year’s tax increase was 2.5 per cent, with no increase to utility.
Joe Day, Humboldt’s city manager, explained to council during the budget meeting on Dec. 6 that both two per cent increases doesn’t mean a four per cent increase, but in essence the city’s saying that a lot of the costs the ratepayers will pay the city has increased by two per cent.
The monthly utility bill increase includes the flat and consumption rates for water and sewer. There was no recommendation for an increase to infrastructure or roadway levy.
“One of the mandates that we’ve had for the last little while on the property tax side, if you go zero per cent you’re going to lose ground and you’re going to have to make it up somewhere along the way because you’re much below the rate of inflation,” Day said. “We’ve been trying to maintain somewhere around the context of the Consumer Price Index – inflation.”
Day said that administration is aware the city’s per cubic water rates are “very high,” but monthly flat fees are lower than neighbouring municipalities.
“We have a lot of utility services that are in essence being subsidized by the taxpayers, so if anything we need to keep our rates up on our utility side so that we can eventually begin to say all the revenues we brought in by water and sewer rates actually cover our expenses.”
At the current stage, Day said the city isn’t capable of doing water main replacements and lagoon expansion through revenue by utility services alone, and that all the money that comes in the water utility is spent on water utility.
Michael Behiel, Humboldt’s mayor, called the budget a “testament to the hard work and dedication to the staff and administration.”
“I believe this year with COVID the cost of living increase was approximately 2.2 per cent so we’re coming in under the inflationary rates. It’s actually phenomenal,” Behiel said.
“It definitely shows the hard work and dedication of our administration and staff who have done everything they can to shave all the access off and ensure we refill our reserves, have proper five-year plans and forward thinking.”
Funded 2022 roadway capital projects include Highway 5 roadway resurfacing and Highway 20 roadway rehabilitation from Second Avenue to First Avenue South.
For the project to reconstruct Highway 20 between Second Avenue to First Avenue South, the city will receive $472,000 in funding through the Urban Highway Connector Program. The city is funding the remaining $254,200.
Several Sections of Highway 5 will be resurfaced during the year with locations including East City Limits to 104th Street, Golf Course Road to Seventh Street, Ninth Street to 16th Street, 17th Street to West City Limits
For the Highway 5 roadway resurfacing, the city will receive $1.63 million in funding through the Urban Highway Connector Program. The city will fund the remaining $934,000.
Funded 2022 streetlight capital projects include Eighth Avenue from First Street to 17th Street and Eighth Avenue street lighting from 17th Street to Peck Road. Corridor lighting improvements are intended to illuminate roadway to recommended lighting levels. Administration noted that the amount in the budget is for if they receive grant funding.
There is allocated funding of $234,500 for a project to undertake Eighth Avenue pedestrian corridor improvements, improving the pedestrian corridor on Highway 5 between Fourth Street and Peck Road. Work includes installing 430 metres of new sidewalk, 1,170 metres of new asphalt trails, 32 curb ramps and removing existing hazards and barriers within existing sidewalks. Administration noted the funding is allocated should the city receive a requested $435,500 in funding.
A project to improve and add to the trail network connecting the campground with the Humboldt Golf Club received $30,000.
Administration costs for Humboldt have been increased in the 2022 budget by $28,380, making the new total $683,780. This includes advertising, supplies, wages, benefits, travel expenses, contractual fleet, and utilities. The increase is in part due to an additional $8,870 due to the rise in Workers Compensation Board costs and an additional $8,730 for a summer student position.
Communications was allocated an additional $66,390 for the creation of a communication assistant position.
RCMP policing costs increase by $71,970 for RCMP contractual services and increase $70,000 to address RCMP retroactive pay as per the new collective bargaining agreement, bringing the city’s pay to a total of $766,680.
During 2020 and 2021 the city did not enter into any new long-term loans. The City of Humboldt has an approved debt limit of $15 million. The 2022 budget does not propose any new external loans, however, administration noted in the budget that they are aware that the wastewater treatment project will require the city to take on new debt.
The total debt at the beginning of 2022 is $2.97 million. Administration estimates place the city’s share of the water treatment plant project at approximately $9.1 million, with a resulting assumption that a long-term loan related to this project would be approximately $7.5 million
According to the consolidated statement of financial position as at Dec. 31, 2020, the city had an accumulated surplus of $50.56 million.