While Premier Alison Redford made her first public appearance Wednesday, and was adamant no new taxes are in store for Albertans for the upcoming budget – a senior official in her party said otherwise.

The premier addressed a crowd at NAIT Wednesday – in it, she made numerous references to a stressed economic climate, and falling resource revenues.

Meanwhile, she maintained the province’s upcoming budget wouldn’t come with new taxes.

“My preference is clear, I don’t want to see new taxes,” Redford said.

That response came after a senior official within the Conservative party was quoted as saying taxes might be the answer to financial woes the province is facing.

However, it’s a move by the premier some critics said make it easier for her to retract.

“When you have her top advisor floating trial balloons out there to raise taxes, then one must consider that someone like Lee Richardson doesn’t just do that without the premier giving him the OK,” Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson said Wednesday.

“Depending on the severity of the situation down the road, she may come in and say ‘Look, we have no alternative but to bring taxes to the picture’,” Political scientist Chaldeans Mensah said.

Redford told CTV News Wednesday that the provincial government has some difficult choices ahead – she said the government is challenged in part by rising salary costs in the public sector, naming teacher and doctor salaries specifically.

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees spoke to CTV News Wednesday as well, and said the government needs to increase salaries to retain employees.

AUPE officials are getting ready to enter contract negotiations in March.

The union represents 21,000 front-line government workers.

With files from Serena Mah