Ponoka Town Council approved the 2024 Interim Town Budget at its regular meeting this week.
“During two busy days of budget deliberations, Council and Administration worked together to find efficiencies and arrive at a lean, fiscally responsible budget. The 2024 Budget balances and delivers on key priorities in the Town’s Strategic Plan by carefully managing spending while continuing to fund essential services that our citizens rely on,” said Town of Ponoka Chief Administrative Officer Sandra Lund. “The Budget also invests in maintaining and upgrading key infrastructure to best serve our community and position our town to grow and thrive into the future,” she added.
The total amount of the 2024 Interim Budget is $26,089,075, which includes an Operating Budget of $22,691,540 and a Capital Budget of $3,397,535. It’s too early to accurately calculate the municipal property tax increase for 2024 because the Interim Budget doesn’t yet factor in property assessment values which only become available in the spring. At that time, Town Council will have the opportunity to review the 2024 Interim Budget again prior to adopting a final budget in 2024.
Based on the current Interim Budget, the municipal portion of property taxes for 2024 is projected to equate to a monthly increase of about $3.41 per $100,000 of residential property value assessment, and $4.45 per $100,000 of commercial property value assessment. That is equivalent to a 4.9 per cent municipal property tax increase to help offset ongoing inflationary costs and ensure the continued reliable delivery of essential municipal services.
“Council worked very hard to keep property taxes as low as possible while continuing to fund all the key services that citizens rely on,” said Town of Ponoka Mayor Kevin Ferguson, noting that the increase in taxes is due to inflationary cost increases.
The 2024 Interim Budget once again incudes a solid infrastructure renewal program. “The Town is committed to maintaining and replacing key infrastructure in our community each year as determined by our asset management planning,” said Mayor Ferguson.
He noted that the majority of Ponoka’s capital and infrastructure projects in the Budget are usually funded through provincial and federal grant funding. However, in the 2024 Interim Budget, more than half of the funding for those projects is scheduled to come from Town reserves due to a significant decline in federal and provincial grant funding over the past few years. Some of the capital and infrastructure projects planned for 2024 include:
- Ponoka’s Annual Pavement and Concrete Improvement Program – This includes annual maintenance and improvement of Town roadways and sidewalks throughout the community;
- Waterworks System Improvements – Including ongoing equipment rehabilitation at Town pump stations and reservoirs to ensure optimum operation and reliability of the system; and planning and analysis for future improvements to the Town’s Wastewater Treatment System;
- Sports Field Maintenance and Upgrades – Improvements to ball diamonds and soccer pitches, including new lighting at the river valley ball diamonds, as well as player bench covers and the development of design improvements for the Lucas Heights soccer pitches;
- Lions Centennial Park Upgrades – Development of design improvements for the park which will be guided by public consultation in 2024. Construction will occur in the future based on design and funding approval by Town Council;
2024 Interim Budget Aligns with Public Consultation Results
The 2024 Interim Budget aligns with the results of the Town’s annual public consultation process, which included Coffee with Council events, an online Budget Open House and a Citizen Input Survey that invited Ponoka citizens to give their input on top priorities they wanted Town Council to consider as it deliberated the 2024 Budget.
The top priorities identified by citizens included:
- Community Safety
- Parks and Recreation
- Growth and Economic Health
- Roads, sidewalks and trails
“Citizen input is a critical part of the budget planning process,” said Mayor Ferguson. He noted that public input and priorities identified in the budget survey results this year were carefully considered and addressed in the 2024 Interim Budget through ongoing upgrades and improvements to Town infrastructure, including roads and sidewalks throughout Ponoka; planned improvements to parks and recreation facilities; continued funding of the Town’s new Protective Services Manager and full-time Community Peace Officer who continue to support public safety in partnership with the Ponoka RCMP; and ongoing funding of the Town’s New Resident and Business Attraction Incentive Programs to attract new businesses and residents to our community.
“I think this Interim Budget does a very good job of balancing the needs of our community while positioning Ponoka for continued growth and success,” said Mayor Ferguson.