Swift Current City Council approved the City’s 2024 Municipal Budget on the recommendation of Mayor Al Bridal during a special meeting of Council on Tuesday, January 16, 2024.
The 2024 Budget comes in at $84,783,436 with $73,073,186 making up Operating & Utility Expenses and the remaining $11,710,250 comprising Capital Expenditures. Of the Capital Expenditures, $2,315,000 is allotted for projects that are dependent on receiving grant funding, and therefore would not proceed without grant approval.
When it comes to new debt, $600,000 is identified for grant dependent projects only, and would only be taken if grants are awarded to the City for these projects. Council has instructed that the City will not be taking on any new debt otherwise.
In fact, the City will see a decrease of $510,000 in principal and interest payments on long-term debt. In 2024, the City will retire two debt facilities – one in General Operations, and one in Water and Wastewater Utility.
Of the Operating budget, a pair of contributing factors that offset its total are increases in Revenue Sharing from the Provincial government, and an increase of facility revenue including the success of the Chinook Golf Course. The City has indicated that the Water and Wastewater Utility Rate will increase an additional 1% in 2024, over and above the annual 2% increase provided for in the bylaw.
Increases in payroll costs are the result of annual step increases and union contracts, as well as bringing two staffing positions back within the City’s roster instead of contracting out services at S3 Arenas and the Swift Current Museum. The increase in fees and services is primarily the result of increased policing costs and software subscriptions.
There are increased maintenance costs in the Public Works Department, as well as increases in carbon charges, utility costs for water, natural gas, electricity, fuel costs, and insurance premiums.
The City of Swift Current is requesting a 3.24% property tax increase in 2024.
During his address to the public and Council, Mayor Bridal explained, “… [this budget is] the result of a thorough review of several editions before City Council and Adminstration concluded what the critical priorities should be for the coming year. We deliberated over what projects should be tapered back in the current financial climate, and what we should invest in, for the future.”
Mayor Bridal drove this point home in his address, “If one was to view the cutting room floor, so to speak, it would tell the story in three words: no. new. debt.”
He added that affordability pressures were the driving force behind the Capital budget decisions made by Council. They focused on capital replacement and capital maintenance to ensure the City’s facilities, equipment, and infrastructure remain in a good state of repair – without overburdening the taxpayers.
When it came to explaining the Operating budget decisions, Mayor Bridal had this to say, “… in all our previous years as your City Council, we reduced expenses, and looked for opportunities to increase operating revenues to keep annual property tax increases as low as possible. That remains our determination to this day.”
“I am very proud of the accomplishments of this Council toward this goal of good stewardship, and I believe the 2024 Budget is a good example of doing what is right by the citizens who have entrusted us with their tax dollars,” expressed Mayor Bridal.
To view the City of Swift Current’s 2024 Municipal Budget in detail, please visit http://www.swiftcurrent.ca/budget2024.