Medicine Hat Minute: Budget Deliberations, Sufficient Supports, and Civic Workforce Expansion
Medicine Hat Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Medicine Hat politics
This Week In Medicine Hat:
There will be a City Council meeting today at 3:45 pm. As usual, Council will begin with a closed session, opening up to the public at 6:30 pm. There will be two Non-Statutory Public Hearings regarding amendments to the Offsite Levy Bylaw and the Rate Bylaw. Council is considering a third option for natural gas rates - a variable rate contract in addition to the already existing default rate contract and fixed price contract. Council will also discuss utility relief options for low-income residents.
- Budget deliberations continue. Council will hear presentations from the Medicine Hat Police Service, Medicine Hat Public Library, Managing Director of Corporate Services, and Managing Director of Strategic Management & Analysis regarding budget demands. This budget proposes an annual 4% increase to property taxes in both 2023 and 2024, as well as an additional 1% increase to property taxes related to assessment growth in each year. The budget could be passed at today’s meeting, but it’s more likely that it will continue to be deliberated at a subsequent Council meeting on December 5th.
- There will be a Corporate Services Committee Meeting on Thursday at 11:00 am. No agenda is available for this meeting yet.
Last Week In Medicine Hat:
Councillors raised questions during the initial phase of budget discussions about the proposal to add 27 City positions in a two-year time frame. These additions would bring the civic workforce to 1,061. Councillors said residents are asking for specific rationale for each job - especially with property tax increases on the table. Hatters have asked whether these are middle management roles, or frontline positions that serve the public. Some of the proposed roles include four utility workers to staff the new water treatment plant and a Truth and Reconciliation coordinator for the public services division.
- The latest report on collective bargaining released by the Alberta Jobs Ministry showed that non-academic staff at Medicine Hat College agreed to a three-year wage freeze during contract negotiations earlier this fall. The contract expired in June 2020, followed by two years of talks. The ratified deal includes no wage increases for the first three years of the four-year deal, followed by a 2.75% increase in the final year with the potential for an additional 0.5% pending economic factors.
- Medicine Hat’s Community Housing Society and the Mustard Seed said that supports in the community are sufficient to keep anyone experiencing homelessness out of the cold this winter. The city has a new 24-hour shelter service as of November 1st, operated out of the Mustard Seed’s Allowance Avenue building. Despite an uptick in use, there is no concern or indication that capacity will become an issue.
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