Fernie residents will see a 5 per cent increase on their municipal tax bill after city council approved the 2022 budget and five-year financial plan.
The changes break down to a 3.91% increase to provide a fully-funded budget and a 1% increase to provide $81,870 for a new affordable housing reserve fund.
According to Fernie staff, the budget equates to an increase of about $104 on an average assessed value of $620,000.
“We know that there is real concern in our community around the lack of affordable housing in our community,” said Mayor Ange Qualizza. “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.”
Fernie staff noted that affordable housing and concerns with housing costs were two prevalent themes in feedback gathered from 108 budget surveys submitted to the city.
City officials said the budget was approved after a comprehensive review of Fernie’s financial position.
Staff note that the 2022 budget focuses on infrastructure upgrades, asset management and sustainable service delivery.
“The City is continuing to improve financial processes and policies to set the foundation for the creation of an effective asset management program and sustainable service delivery model,” said Director of Finance Bryn Burditt. “We are working to streamline the budget process and have an adopted budget and financial plan two months earlier than last year, putting us in a better position to forecast finances.”
Fernie officials said the 2022 budget maintains essential services, increases staffing to improve service delivery, implements recommendations made by external assessments. responds to the financial impacts of COVID-19 and increases in fixed costs.
A few of the key projects funded in the 2022 budget include upgrades to the Annex Dike, active transportation network improvements, wastewater upgrades and remediation, rehabilitation to the city’s transportation network and facility and IT upgrades.