Homes on Willowdale Drive and Patterson Avenue in Armstrong suffered extensive flood damage in 2017. The City of Armstrong has announced a major overhaul of Willowdale Drive as part of its 2019 budget deliberations. (Chris Smallwood photo)

Homes on Willowdale Drive and Patterson Avenue in Armstrong suffered extensive flood damage in 2017. The City of Armstrong has announced a major overhaul of Willowdale Drive as part of its 2019 budget deliberations. (Chris Smallwood photo)

Armstrong tax increase ‘modest’

City of Armstrong planning 2.6 per cent hike in municipal portion of taxes in 2019

Armstrong residents can expect a modest tax increase in 2019.

Council gave unanimous support to three readings of its five-year financial plan bylaw, which calls for a 2.6 per cent tax increase next year.

“The 2.6 per cent was chosen as a target. It represents the consumer price index,” said Mayor Chris Pieper. “We wanted to retain the services that we currently have. We’re not really adding to anything, but we’re retaining all things we do like clearing snow from sidewalks and road maintenance, stuff like that.”

The increase is for the municipal portion of taxes, which includes the fire department, all general government capital programs, parks and recreation and cemetery.

Not included are items like school taxes and increases for RCMP officers for the community.

“The RCMP increase is above the 2.6 per cent, and how much it will be in percentage, we’re not sure,” said Pieper. “When we signed our contract with the RCMP, we agreed to a fourth officer for Armstrong in 2019, which the RCMP will hire. We don’t pay until the officer arrives but the budget includes that.”

Pieper said the city has built up a reserve fund to decrease some of the impact on residents but it will still be an impact.

The major capital project on the books for 2019 is one that was supposed to happen two years ago.

Willowdale Drive will get a complete overhaul, The project was supposed to happen in 2017 but was cancelled after the severe flooding as a result of heavy rains in the spring and Meighan Creek overflowing its banks.

Since then, the city has been seeking permission from the province to dredge the creek to help with flood mitigation.

“We’re optimistic we’ll get the permission this year,” said Pieper, adding the project was tendered two years ago but will be re-tendered in 2019.

Council is expected to pass the bylaw at its next regular meeting in January. Coun. Shirley Fowler was absent from the meeting.