The Town of Golden’s 2021 proposed annual budget and 2021-25 financial plan passed first reading at a special open council meeting on March 9.
“In 2020, we saw great challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as a municipality and as a community,” said Mayor Ron Oszust.
“We see both exciting and challenging times ahead.
“Soon we will see our downtown transform with the completion of the Kicking Horse River dike project and soon we will be asking the community for permission to borrow funds for necessary infrastructure improvements in the downtown. This will all take place as we take the necessary steps as an organization to deliver programs and services to the community, while preserving our financial health.”
The budget has a proposed five per cent increase for 2021, after council implemented a zero per cent increase in 2020.
Town CAO Jon Wilsgard says the increase in the budget is to stay on track with inflation.
Town CFO Pat Sibilleau added the increase won’t necessarily translate to a five per cent property tax increase.
“We have a very robust philosophy in contributing to our reserves, for what we want to do now and also planning for the future,” said Wilsgard.
“It’s a testament to those reserves that we have a number of projects shovel ready.”
The increase will also allow the town to maintain service levels and contribute to their reserve, which helps with infrastructure projects.
One of the more notable infrastructure projects for 2021 is the planned renewal of the streetscape from IGA to the carwash.
The town will be undergoing the formal process to borrow up to $5 million for this project, which would be paid back over the next 25 years.
Wilsgard says the town will be using this as a line of credit to help fund the project when needed, a process that will allow the town to ensure the people using the new infrastructure are the ones who are paying for it.
“It makes sense to borrow now and implement an affordable repayment plan so that those using this will be the ones who pay for it, rather than the reserves where the people who paid into that may no longer live in town,” said Wilsgard.
“This is a very meaningful, logical and popular way for municipalities to move forward, called temporal fiscal equivalence, which means that those who are enjoying the asset are the ones paying for it.”
Wilsgard says that the town has used reserves to date to get the project shovel ready.
The town will also be purchasing a new fire truck, which is dictate by an overseeing body. Wilsgard says it will cost about $750,000.
Other notable expenditures and initiatives include the final phase of the Kicking Horse dike project, which will be completed by July, the downtown plaza, which will see a complete redesign this fall, and replacing the community entrance sign by Reflection Lake.
Water and sewer rates will each increase by five per cent as well, which the town says will equal about $2.83 a month for a single residential property.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the feedback process will be held online, with an online survey available for input.
“We’re testing the waters for community online engagement,” said Wilsgard.
“We may move a step forward in the future with the complexity as early as next year to have people engage the town with more detailed input.”
The survey can be accessed at golden.ca/budget.
It can be viewed online at golden.ca/budget, or in-person at the town hall.