The city’s proposed 2013 operating budget is pegged at $72.2 million.
City treasurer Dean Hammond presented council with a preliminary budget overview Monday night, which includes a mill rate increase of 1.99 per cent.
"Based on the input that council has received from the public budget forum and the information that they receive from the public consultation on Dec. 12, that number could totally change depending on the will of council," Hammond said.
This year’s proposed mill rate is 19.45, compared to 19.07 in 2012. As an example, if your home was assessed at $200,000, they take 45 per cent of that value and apply the mill rate to that amount to determine the property tax.
An average home assessed at $200,000 would pay $1,750 in property taxes in 2013, if the budget stays as is. That’s an increase of $34 from 2012.
The operating budget is funded by grants, revenues and tax levies. The 2013 utilities budget of $18.1 million is funded by water rates.
The assessment base grew by approximately two per cent this year.
"As the city grows, we have more properties, whether it be residential or commercial that are essentially paying taxes, so that’s a good thing. I mean the growth helps us, we’re essentially spreading the expenses over a larger city," Hammond said.
Some of the budget "helps" this year include the fact that revenues from all non-tax categories are increasing, such as government grants, which takes some pressure off the taxpayer.
"We dropped off some debt this year," Hammond said. "We dropped off approximately $800,000 in utility debt, however we have the police station payment which is just over $1 million, which hurts us a bit."
The $500,000 that council put into the budget last year for additional infrastructure spending remains in the 2013 budget.
One of the budget "hurts" this year is the protective services collective agreements, which are in negotiation right now.
"So depending where those settlements land, of course there’s going to be increases in salaries for those areas," Hammond said.
It’s expected the protective services budget will increase by four per cent.
Infrastructure is staying relatively level.
"I’m pleased this year the way this budget came together," Hammond said. "We’ve done a really good job with keeping expenses under control."
City manager Scott Hildebrand tasked department heads with a three per cent goal, of either finding an additional three per cent in new revenues or a three per cent reduction in expenses.
"The goal … is not to cut expenses, but rather to have a sustainable decrease," Hammond said. "Something that’s not just for one year but will live forever."
Brandon Chamber of Commerce president Nate Andrews said the city has laid out the budget "reasonably well" for the general public to understand.
"People can now take some numbers and play with them to see how it’s going to affect them on their own tax bill," Andrews said.
Andrews said he’s looking forward to digging into the budget details.
"What we have to do is try to pull that thing apart and see if there’s other levels of efficiency in there because we believe there is," he said.
Hammond’s budget presentation will be available on the city’s website brandon.ca today.
Residents can weigh in on the topic Dec. 12, when the public budget consultation takes place at city hall.