“The county is in good financial shape and we have some aggressive capital projects”
For the Lakeside Leader
Big Lakes County expects a good year in 2018 after passing an interim operating budget. Council approved the $32.199,025 budget at a Dec. 14 meeting. At the same time, it approved an interim capital budget of $35,830,954.
“The county is in good financial shape and we have some aggressive capital projects,” reeve Ken Matthews said. “We look forward to a good year.”
Taxpayers can expect no significant changes in operations.
“We plan to maintain the current levels of service and hold the line,” said Heather Nanninga, director of corporate services.
Salaries and wages were adjusted with a 1.3 per cent increase in the cost of living allowance.
The budget also supports a proposed 1.3 per cent increase in the mill rate for residential and farmland, which would add $67,746 in tax revenue.
“Based on a hypothetical $250,000 property, the tax rate change adds $13.75,” Nanninga said.
Council will further discuss the mill rate at final budget meetings in March. By then the county could have a clearer picture of revenues, particularly from oil well drilling.
“We did quite well this year and we expect drilling activity to pick up next year,” Nanninga said.
The interim budget has a $590,000 increase for the public works department, which includes roads, the High Prairie airport and drainage maintenance. Expenses for recreation and cultural services have decreased by $81,000.
The budget adds $300,000 contingency funding for unexpected or unforeseeable expenses in materials, goods and contracted and general services.
On the capital side, the county has committed funding to pave roads leading to Shaw’s Point Resort and at Hilliard’s Bay Estates. Grouard will benefit from paving and in a study for water services.
Council has expressed concern about speeding in hamlets over the past several months; that concern is reflected in an allocation of $90,000 for two digital speed reader signs.