Medicine Hat Minute: Utility Relief, Development Subsidies, and Budget Discussions Continue
Medicine Hat Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Medicine Hat politics
This Week In Medicine Hat:
This morning, at 8:00 am, there will be a Public Services Committee meeting. On the agenda is the Managing Director’s Service Area Update, which will touch on registration for winter recreation activities.
- The Administrative and Legislative Review Committee will meet today at 3:45 pm. The meeting begins with a closed session to discuss Amendments to the Municipal Government Act, a Jurisdictional Scan of Council Codes of Conduct Bylaws, and applications to the City of Medicine Hat’s Advisory Boards, Committees, and Commissions. At 4:30 pm, the meeting will open back up to the public, and the Committee will discuss a designated Indigenous seat on the Police Commission as well as the City’s flag protocol policy.
- There are two other meetings taking place this week, neither of which have published agendas yet. The Economic, Land, and Strategic Planning and Development Committee will meet on Tuesday at 4:30 pm and the Energy and Infrastructure Committee meets on Thursday at 3:30 pm.
Last Week In Medicine Hat:
City Council wrapped up budget deliberations around 11:00 pm last Monday, but have not yet come to an ultimate resolution. 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. Deliberations will continue at the next Council meeting on December 5th - the budget is likely to be passed at that meeting.
- Councillors opted to put a local utility cost relief program on hold to see what the Province is offering first. The agenda item was moved from Monday’s Council meeting to one early next month. The next day, Premier Danielle Smith addressed Albertans and announced measures to help with the affordability crisis. One of the measures is a $200 per home rebate on electricity bills. In the wake of that announcement, it remains to be seen what, if anything, the City does to help struggling Hatters. In both 2020 and 2021, the City provided utility bill credits and one-time funding for customers facing disconnection.
- Council decided to cut the fees paid by developers to connect new subdivisions to City roads and utilities by more than half next year, but also decided to remove a subsidy program for new construction. The City pays for roughly two-thirds of major offsite levy projects through general tax or utility rate revenue, and that will remain roughly the same after these changes, which are primarily designed to simplify and clarify the system.
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