Season’s greetings from the mayor

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I hope you all enjoyed a merry Christmas and are gearing up for a prosperous new year.

It’s now been over two months since myself and the new council were elected and we’ve begun to lay the groundwork towards a promising and constructive term.

I’m proud to be part of such a dedicated and enthusiastic group and couldn’t be any more optimistic about the next four years. Thank you for the opportunity to serve once again.

One of our first major tasks was to approve the 2018 budget, which we did after three full days of deliberating last month.

We’re moving into 2018 with a zero per cent tax rate increase — which, I’m pleased to say we’ve been able to achieve without compromising service levels.

Given the challenging economy, lessening the financial burden on ratepayers was an extremely important consideration and one that the budget achieves.

Of course, the final amount on your tax bill will depend on both property assessment and the province’s education requisition but any changes in either direction are likely to be minimal.

At any rate, keep an eye out for the 2018 Tax Rate Bylaw, which will be presented to council for approval in the spring.

Some of the most important discussions during 2018 budget deliberations surrounded utilities, and as a group, it was determined that rates should be both affordable and fair.

As a result, and for the first time in years, residents will see a reduction in their utility bill associated with the wastewater monthly flat rate, which is decreasing from $15 to $10.

To keep up with our service providers, water and wastewater consumption rates will increase by five and 10 cents, respectively, but the average property will see a decrease overall.

We’ll be evaluating utility rates further in the new year and in the long-term will continue to seek solutions that are viable and sustainable.

At the time of writing, council and administration were preparing to undertake the 2018 strategic planning process with enhanced citizen engagement and housing needs among the many items to be explored.

Outcomes of the process will be outlined in town correspondence in the coming weeks, and updates will be posted as they become available.

In the meantime, I welcome the opportunity to chat — please feel free to contact me at any time!

Have a safe and happy new year!

Jim Romane is the mayor of Innisfail.

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