March 1st, 2024

Brooks reinstates pandemic-suspended business licences, raises taxes to meet policing needs

By Medicine Hat News on December 22, 2023.

medicinehatnews.com@Medicine Hat News

Business licence fees that were suspended in Brooks during the early COVID pandemic, will be reinstated in 2024, and that city will begin phasing in tax increases to pay for much higher policing in 2027.

Brooks council approved its 2024 budget update Monday, including $105,000 in returning revenue from fees on business licences in the city.

Overall, the city will require $665,000 more in tax revenue to balance the $14.2-million operational budget that includes an extra $166,000 in municipal salaries and $474,000 due on general inflation.

An average house valued at $239,000 would pay an additional $100 per year in 2024, bringing the bill to $2,144 for the municipal portion, not including educational or seniors housing requisitions.

Brooks will pilot a semi-fixed bus route in 2024, at a cost of $124,000, and hire an inclusion co-ordinator.

Major capital projects in the year ahead include a new public works shop at an estimated cost of $13.8 million.

As well, the city’s police contract with the RCMP is expected to rise by 15 per cent in 2024, partly offset by the reduction of a half-time officer position.

The city is also in the second year of a four-year plan to absorb a 20 per cent increase in police contract cost in 2027. At that time the city population is expected to reach 15,000, thereby requiring Brooks to pay 90 per cent of the RCMP pooled costs, up from 70 per cent at present.

Increased charges on utility services provided by the city will add about $4 per month on average, or $46 per year.

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