Brandon, MB – Following two days of vigorous discussion and debate, Brandon City Council has approved the final municipal budget of its mandate. This year’s $83.2 million dollar operating budget is representative of a municipal tax increase of 0.42%, which means the typical residential property used in the City’s standard calculations (40 years old, 1,200 square feet, 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, and assessed at approximately $254,500) will see an increase in municipal taxes of $8 over 2017 levels.
In speaking to the approved budget, Brandon Mayor Rick Chrest referenced it as the best overall result for Brandon’s ratepayers at the cost of a very modest municipal tax increase.
“I am extremely pleased with this budget, not only for the end result – which shook out at approximately one-third the rate of inflation – but for the way that everyone worked on the budget and the respectful, collegial way that they dealt with each other during the process,” Chrest said. “That’s kind of a hallmark of this Council and I am extremely proud of them.”
Several dozen additions and deletions to the budget were brought forward by councillors and debated in detail throughout the process, with some of the more significant changes approved being:
- An additional $500,000 in capital funding for the Keystone Centre, to be funded through the Accommodation Tax Reserve;
- An additional $200,000 in funding for this year’s road paving and milling program;
- $30,000 in new funding for a “Downtown Ambassador” pilot program, $10,000 in new funding to enhance downtown heritage lighting, and $50,000 in additional funding to support the efforts of the Brandon Downtown Development Corporation;
- $25,000 in grant funding to assist Brandon Riverbank Inc. in pursing installation of an electric car charging station at the Riverbank Discovery Centre, along with $20,000 in additional funding for the City of Brandon’s Environmental Initiatives Program;
- An additional $100,000 in funding to assist in addressing building deficiencies at Brandon’s community centres;
- Additional grant funding support for the Brandon General Museum & Archives Inc., the Westman Multicultural Festival, Simplot Millennium Park, and the Brandon Bear Clan;
- An additional $100,000 in reserve funding allocation for a future soccer facility;
- A slight reduction of Sunday transit service hours of operation, along with tighter parameters placed on which statutory holidays will include the provision of transit service;
- Removal of funding earmarked for participation in the National Communities in Bloom Evaluation (Judged) Program;
- Reduction of funding to the Summer Lights Music Program (summer concert series and one-day festival);
- A reduction in the snow clearing and removal budget to reflect the season’s minimal snowfall.
“The overall funding level approved still allows for growth and allows administration to achieve some of the goals that Council had set for us in its Strategic Plan, all while looking for innovative, new opportunities,” concluded Brandon City Manager/CAO Rod Sage. “With this budget, Council pushed us to adapt and look for efficiencies to ensure we can provide quality service to the community while being respectful and financially prudent.”
The Council-approved budget will now proceed to public hearing stage, a date for which will be determined in the spring.