Calgary

Red Deer needs to freeze spending given city's 'economic prospects,' says chamber

Red Deer's chamber of commerce is calling on the city to freeze spending this year, citing the weak economy.

With 'oil prices in the tank,' group says businesses can't handle tax increases

The Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce is calling for city hall, pictured here, to freeze spending due to economic woes the Alberta city is facing from low oil prices. (Google Maps)

Red Deer's chamber of commerce is calling on the city to freeze spending this year, citing the weak economy.

The chamber is calling for the mayor and council to pass a $364-million operating budget — the same as last year — with no tax increases while maintaining service levels. It says this can be achieved by:

  • Outsourcing services.
  • Freezing wages and hiring.
  • Finding efficiencies.
  • Adopting more competitive regulatory and licensing fees.

"With oil prices in the tank and very little drilling activity planned, we're extremely concerned about the economic prospects in store for 2019," said chamber CEO Rick More.

More said many members are already facing financial hardships, and even a "modest" increase to taxes could cause harm.

Council considering 2.5% tax increase

The city is in its second day of its operating budget deliberations, which are expected to take two weeks. The focus of spending will be on tackling crime, according to budget documents.

Council is considering a 2.5 per cent tax increase.

Not all groups that have sent in submissions to council agree fees should go up.

The Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance has requested that if recreation fees do go up, the fee assistance program also be adjusted to ensure families in poverty are still able to access facilities, and that youth bus passes be included in the city's fee assistance program or be eliminated and subsidies for low-income families and individuals be increased.

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