M.D. of Lesser Slave River council last week approved a preliminary version of the 2018 budget, as recommended. It’s a bit different from the usual practice, which is to approve an interim budget based on 30 per cent of the previous year’s, just to keep things rolling until the budget is finalized – usually in March.
Doing it that way is simpler, said CAO Allan Winarski in his report for council, but, “it does not allow administration to fully capitalize on the benefits of an early budget approval.”
Those benefits include the ability to get started on projects that have been approved, based on the reasonable certainty that the funds will be in place when needed. Getting requests for proposals out early improves the chances of getting work done on time and for a decent price, and so on.
The budget includes various operational and capital items that the M.D. can now move ahead on. On the operational side, they include drainage in Flatbush, increased gravel crushing and re-graveling and membrane replacement at the Smith water plant.
On the capital side, approved are interior renos to the Widewater Complex, a grader, engineering on improvements to the Old Smith Highway and Canyon Creek Arena repairs.
Other items are in a ‘tentative’ category, and will be included in the final version of the budget, – or not – depending what develops with regard to funding between now and then.
Not mentioned in Winarski’s report or council’s discussion were the tax implications of the approved budget. That in any case isn’t known for certain until the finalized budget (expected in late March) and the setting of mill rates, which quickly follows. What is mentioned is that the base budget, plus additional items (as noted above), result in an anticipated deficit of $946,652. The plan, said Winarski in his written report, is to cover that amount through a transfer from reserves.
“However, it is likely to change, as cost savings through the procurement process are realized, assessment amounts are confirmed and taxation decisions are made.”