“We have to work hard to get big industry”
For the Lakeside Leader
Big Lakes County council has set its priorities for the 2018 budget, in advance of drafting its interim and final budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.
Steps to attract new business, expand broadband services, enhance water, sewer and paving, and an infrastructure audit were determined as top priorities by council at a budget meeting Nov. 1.
“If we want to get new business to the county, we need to have good broadband,” reeve Ken Matthews said.
Matthews was responding to another councillor’s suggestion that the county needed to attract new business to make up for the drop in revenue from linear assessment, due to the sluggish oil and gas industry.
“We have to work hard to get big industry,” said councillor David Marx. “We have to start thinking about it now to ensure our future without relying on oil and gas.”
Matthews and councillor Ken Killeen said council continues to promote the county to lure business under the county’s economic development authority.
Councillor Don Charrois spoke up for the importance of supporting the tourism industry.
As for the infrastructure audit, CAO Roy Brideau said the federal government requires it and offers funding. He added that the county will be required to adopt a three-year operating budget and a five-year capital budget.
A draft interim budget is expected to be presented to council at budget meetings scheduled for Dec. 14 and 15.
“We will focus on efficient operations and make the most of the funds we already have,” said Heather Nanninga, director of corporate services for the county. “We will impact the taxpayer as little as possible and draw from reserves rather than increase taxes.”
Continuing with the topic of budgeting philosophy, Nanninga said, “We will maintain existing services and infrastructure before providing new services or initiating new construction projects.”