City of Fernie city hall. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

City of Fernie city hall. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

City of Fernie officially approves 2022 budget, tax rate and five year financial plan

The plan includes a 5 per cent tax increase for a budget shortfall and afforfable housing fund

The City of Fernie council officially approved the 2022 budget, tax rate, and five year financial plan at a March 14 regular council meeting.

Councillors voted in favour of the budget at a special council meeting on March 7 with a 5-2 vote. The financial plan includes a 5 per cent municipal tax increase to cover a projected budget shortfall of $291,817, requiring a 3.91 per cent increase.

Another 1 per cent increase was included to allocate $81,870 towards the creation of an ‘affordable housing reserve,’ according to a city press release.

“The importance of creating affordable housing, and concern with the current cost of housing were two of the prevalent themes in the feedback gathered from the 108 budget surveys submitted during the public consultation period,” the release says.

Mayor Ange Qualizza said: “We know that there is real concern in our community around the lack of affordable housing in our community. Creating a reserve and allocating funds that will ensure we are poised to take advantage of opportunities to create more affordable housing is crucial for the continued growth and prosperity of our community.”

The press release continues: “The 2022 budget focuses on critical infrastructure upgrades, asset management and sustainable service delivery. The budget maintains essential services, increases staffing to improve existing service delivery, implements recommendations from external assessments, and responds to ongoing financial impacts related to the Covid-19 pandemic and increases in fixed costs.”

“Key projects funded in the 2022 budget include Annex Dike upgrades, active transportation network improvements, wastewater upgrades and remediation, transportation network rehabilitation, and facility and IT upgrades,” the release says.

At the March 7 meeting, two councillors spoke against the budget: Phil Iddon and Morgan Pulsifer.

Iddon expressed concern over the city spreading itself beyond what he considered to be its core services, those being the maintenance of water, sewer, waste and protective services.

Pulsifer took issue with the process of how reports from community groups partially funded through the city were not baked into the system earlier on.

– With files from Scott Tibballs

MORE INFORMATION: Fernie budget passes 5-2, with 5 percent tax increase coming


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