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Banff approves final budgets

It’s official. Banff residents and businesses will see a 1.7 overall increase on their tax bills next year. At a meeting on Monday (Dec.

It’s official. Banff residents and businesses will see a 1.7 overall increase on their tax bills next year.

At a meeting on Monday (Dec. 10), council unanimously approved the $30 million operating budget as well as the 2013-2022 capital budget, which calls for $6.4 million in projects next year.

Officials say they believe the tax increase is fair, which amounts to about $10.35 extra per month on the average Banff residence, including both the tax increase and an increase to garbage and recycling pickup fees.

“I am happy with where the budget ended and I hope residents will be too,” said Mayor Karen Sorensen. “I am optimistic about the economy in Banff with tourism rebounding, but certainly most of the industry is still in recovery and I think this budget respects that.”

Several new jobs were approved, including a communications specialist to manage the Town’s updated website; an equipment operator for Banff’s streets; and a part-time position for small engine repair and fleet training.

Other new expenditures include $35,000 to hire a consultant to do an economic prosperity plan, $39,000 for the Banff Housing Corporation and $9,000 for oak barrel planters to help beautify Bear Street.

Council said they believe administration put a great deal of work into the operating budget before it was presented to council.

“I’ll support it. It’s not as offensive as other years,” said Councillor Stavros Karlos.

The capital budget calls for $6.44 million worth of projects for 2013, $11.1 million worth of projects in 2014 and $3.5 million to be spent on capital projects in 2015.

Total transfers to capital reserves, including capital grants, development levies and operating transfers to capital reserves, are budgeted to be $9.69 million in 2013.

The capital reserves are forecast to be a deficit of $1.35 million in 2013 and a deficit of $3.57 million in 2014 before returning to a positive balance of $1.6 million in 2015.

Council set aside $50,000 to remove trees from the dam crest of 40 Mile Dam as recommended by an inspection, plus another $500,000 in 2018 for potential decommissioning of the dam.

In addition, $300,000 has been set aside in 2014 for irrigation replacement and widening of the rugby pitch and $40,000 in 2013 to replace the canoe dock, which was dismantled this year.

Council also set aside $30,000 in 2014 for two warming shelters for the outdoor skating rink at the high school. Banff Lake Louise Tourism is seeking matching provincial funds to buy two more.

The green light was also given for $11,000 to be spent on two more mobile speed indicator signs, which flash and warn motorists of the speed they are driving on Banff’s streets.

Another $12,000 will be spent on a new 30-foot inflatable snowman, or a 25-foot inflatable Santa Claus for the Town’s float in the annual parade of lights. The Town has historically rented the inflatables for about $1,200 a year.

Rocky Mountain Outlook

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