north perth mayor says budget process still in early stages

North Perth Mayor says budget process still in early stages

North Perth Mayor Todd Kasenberg says the municipality is still in the very early stages of its budget process.

Kasenberg notes that the process is always a little slower following an election, as new councils settle into forming their first budgets. He says they’ll likely have the numbers set by April, and there are some specific things they will have to focus on.

“What will the commitment of council be towards the affordable and attainable housing agenda? That’s something we began recently, but we’ve decided as a group that we need a workshop where we’re going to do some more thinking on affordable housing,” Kasenberg explained.

Kasenberg says affordable housing is probably the number one item that will challenge most municipal governments. He adds the municipality has grown, which will bring in some new tax dollars.

“We say that and more recently we’ve been able to understand that more carefully because of the province’s freeze on changing the assessment system. So, we will have some natural new money coming in as a result of that growth,” added Kasenberg.

Setting budgets during the pandemic was difficult everywhere, of course, but Kasenberg notes that for the most part, things on the capital side of the budget remained and will continue to remain roughly the same.

“The capital budget will look the same as it has most years, and the pandemic didn’t have a dramatic effect on the capital budget. So, the focus would be on operations, and the new kind of problems and challenges that have arisen there as a result of the pandemic,” Kasenberg said. “We’re seeing hikes in prices across the board, especially in capital domains, though not exclusively, and the interest rates are starting to filter in to the costs of project work and operations.”

In terms of tangible solutions toward the affordable housing problem, Kasenberg says they want to ensure they get input from local experts and stakeholders, including builders, on what can be done.

“We’ll have to find ways of investing either directly with cash, or with assets and land that we own, etcetera, to create some sort of momentum in affordability of housing. It’s not the only issue, but it’s certainly one of the big issues that is emerging from the pandemic,” Kasenberg stated.

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