The City of Portage la Prairie's annual budget has passed third reading and is in effect. Chair of Finance for the City of Portage la Prairie and Councillor Joe Masi says he's quite pleased that the financial plan and their tax levy bylaw have been approved. 

"This now allows us as a city to move forward with some of our key strategic priorities and actually put dollars into that now. They're going to become a reality. Just a couple of things that I think the citizens of Portage would be interested in; we said that community safety and well-being would be a high priority, and we've now got the money in our budget to have a Community Safety Officer program to enhance public safety and reduce the impacts of crime in our community. It's a great initiative that we have."

He also notes more economic opportunity in Portage was a goal, so they're putting more dollars into the expansion of Portage's water treatment plant to bring more businesses to town. Masi says this additional water treatment work ensures the community is ready for future economic growth and to meet the needs of all its citizens with more treatable water.

"We said another strategic priority was to improve quality of life of our community through the development of great neighbourhoods, and we're going to be investing in the design and construction of a new street in preparation for the development of the former Agassiz land. We also said we wanted to increase and expand our recreation opportunities, green spaces, and active transportation. We're now supporting Koko Platz recreation build rebuild, the Junkyard Dogs Activity Park, and Simplot Park, completing the Garrioch Creek Trail, and completing the Active  Transportation Pathway Network to extend to Westpark School. Those are all things we're going to improve the quality of life in our community."

Lastly, Masi elaborates on the council's desire to showcase the City to others through tourism.

"We've now got a four-year funding agreement with our Portage Regional Economic Development to really focus on tourism and enhance and promote our assets here. We want to bring new events and more visitors to Portage la Prairie. When you look at our strategic priorities as a Council, which we released last November, we now are starting to put the funding in to start getting those in place this year. As chair of finance, and I think all of Council agrees, we're very proud that we've been able to do this with a 1.73 per cent % increase; as property taxes well below the inflation rate."

He adds he wants to remind everyone about this year's tax changes and education rebate changes. Masi says keep an eye out for that and it will be found on your property tax statements. He feels there are many good things in this financial plan and you'll see more as the year unfolds. Masi says the money is now in place to do those things that they said they would do to the public. 

Masi extends many great thanks to the Mayor Knox, council members and all the administrative team who worked on this budget, as there has been a tremendous amount of work that has gone into its formulation. He says it's been such a great year and the future looks bright for Portage la Prairie.