Spruce Grove hoping to finalize their budget

The final meeting is November 8th

Spruce Grove council will try to finalize a budget when it meets tonight.

In its updated corporate plan, the city is proposing to raise property taxes by 3.9% over each of the next three years.

Plenty of discussion was dedicated to transit, as the city is beginning to move that service in-house.

Chief Administration Officer Robert Cotterill says ridership is skyrocketing.

The city is proposing nearly a million dollars worth of funding over the next three years to add buses and frequency to the 560 and 562 routes.

Though grant money is covering off a large percentage of the cost associated with moving transit in-house, it'll be a multi-million dollar expense for the city over that time as well.

Another big factor in this year's budget is staffing at the fire department.

The proposed plan would see eight new firefighters hired next year, and another four in 2020.

That would come at a cost of $2.5 million over the next three years.

At the end of Wednesday's meeting, council asked staff to bring back a list of funding items that would have to be cut, if the increase was to be capped anywhere from 3.1 to 3.5 percent.

Chief Administrative Officer Robert Cotterill says his team is spending the majority of the day making those tough decisions.

The average detached home in Spruce Grove is worth just less than $390,000.

A 3.9% increase would then amount to just under $90 for the year.

Tax increases in Spruce Grove have averaged out to roughly 3.6% over the last decade.

Spruce Grove will also take another step toward nailing down plans on a possible sports and entertainment centre.

Cotterill says on December 10, consultants who have lead the design phase of the project will present council with some options.

He says council is committed to taking whatever designs it selects to the public for feedback.

The city is currently projecting roughly $44.5 million dollars to be spent on this over the next three years, which would change depending on the financing required for the project. 

The city is currently planning to take on roughly one third of the cost, while grants and other partners would cover the other two thirds.

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