page contents Vote Dylan Bressey, candidate for Grande Prairie City Council. Election 2017. page contents

Budget 2019: Four Priorities

Budget time is quickly approaching.

Council has been discussing budgets all year. Many members of the community have also made their voices heard. Based on these discussions, staff have been working incredibly hard to prepare for Council deliberations.

There is opportunity for this to be a substantial reset year. I hope Council embraces that opportunity.

I have many priorities and ideas that I hope to see reflected in the budget. However, I have not seen any business plans, management recommendations, or Priority Based Budgeting scores yet. These will be circulated to Council and made public on October 29th. I’ll start forming opinions about how most service areas should be funded once I have this information.

That being said, right now I have four big goals. These are positions I currently intend to advocate the most strongly for. I’d love to hear what you think about them. Are they on point with what you think the community needs?

Important notes: all mistakes and opinions belong to me and me alone. The goals I explain here are my personal goals- they have not been endorsed by Council.

My Priority Areas

  1. A decreased tax burden. Last year, the taxes on a Grande Prairie home valued at our average sale price would’ve been $3655. The average of 23 other Alberta municipalities was $3172. Our taxes are very high. That needs to change. I want to vote for a cut. If Council won’t support a cut along with the following three goals, I could see myself supporting a freeze (with NO adjustment for inflation). I don’t see myself supporting an increase.

  2. Increased road maintenance. I suspect that every jurisdiction in Canada is suffering an infrastructure deficit: physical assets are degrading faster than they are being maintained. Having to catch up on infrastructure in the future is a significant threat to municipalities’ abilities to provide other services. Grande Prairie is no exception. One area that needs more attention: our roads. Last year, $8,000,000 was allocated to the Road Rehabilitation and Overlay Program. I would like to see this increased by at least 25% to $10,000,000 or more. Additionally, we will soon be inheriting the current bypass from the province. We need to have significant funds ready to invest in maintenance and upgrades for it.

  3. Increased crime enforcement and prevention. Many citizens feel their property is at risk, and some feel they are physically unsafe due to crime in Grande Prairie. Addressing this is a priority the community has very clearly expressed to me. I do not have a particular dollar value I want to see put in. However, I know management has been hearing concerns about crime coming from Council, the public, and staff. I expect that their budget recommendations will include plans to do more to support the RCMP, resource crime prevention initiatives, and address root causes of crime. I’m reserving my judgement on specific initiatives until I see the whole budget. However, I do intend to support more overall investment in this area.

  4. Leisure Centre Next Steps. For years, the Leisure Centre has been sitting mostly empty and unusable with no plans for its future. This needs to change. It is located in a residential neighbourhood, is adjacent to two high schools, and is very close to GPRC, the new hospital, and a large commercial area. It is unacceptable for this piece of City property to be unused indefinitely. I have no hard-set opinions on what should be done with the Leisure Centre. However, it is past due for Council to start having a serious conversation with the community so plans can be formed and acted on. Staff resources need to be allocated toward engaging the community about this site. There are some engineering studies that need to happen before decisions can be made. We should also have enough money set aside to demolish the site if this is the direction Council chooses to pursue first. These next steps need to be funded in the 2019 budget.

These four priorities do not align with many of the areas that I am most passionate about. I care deeply about increasing accessibility, addressing the opioid crisis, creating new housing solutions, developing youth, encouraging recreational opportunities, and wisely investing in our arts and culture. However, the four goals listed above are all needed to pursue other initiatives.

If we drive development outside of Grande Prairie due to taxes, we will be unable to afford excellent services. Likewise, if we have to scramble to catch-up with neglected infrastructure such as crumbling roads or neglected buildings. We will also have troubles encouraging people to invest their time, energy, and money into enhancing our community if they do not feel safe in it. Fiscal responsibility and safety are core values a City must reflect if it wants to be able to deliver on other priorities. That is why I currently have these four top goals as we head into budget.

I’d Love to Hear From You

What do you think of my priorities? Are they on point or should I re-evaluate them?

You can let me know what you think online. But I always learn more from in-person conversations. In a few weeks, I’ll be hosting a coffee meeting. Its purpose is to discuss the 2019 budget. This will be at the Ernie Radbourne Pavilion at 2:30pm on Sunday, November 4th. More details can be found on the Facebook event page. I hope you will consider coming.

It is also important to note that I am only one voice on Council. I’d encourage you to also be letting my colleagues know what you think. You can find contact info here. Additionally, the City will be launching an online Citizen Budget survey on Thursday. I’ll post a link in future blog posts, but you will also be able to find it through the City’s social media accounts.

Thanks for reading! Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be making more posts about Budget 2019. I’ll be talking about what can be done in both terms of spending and revenue to deliver on community priorities. I hope you will check back.

Thanks again.