Slave Lake mayor Tyler Warman looks ahead to 2018 to give a sneak peak of what is on the horizon for the town in the new year.
Warman says town council is currently finishing up the budget. This will not be completed until the end of January or mid February. Once the budget is completed, he would have a better idea of what the town will be doing.
“Everything right now is just theoretical,” Warman explains.
That being said, the mayor outlines some projects that will carry over to this year from 2017.
First was the $19 million rural water line that runs from the ball diamonds in Widewater all the way to the town’s water treatment plant. The line will run along the south side of the Hwy. 2. This will serve the town, the M.D. of Lesser Slave River and Sawridge First Nation.
The town will be upgrading the sewer lagoon sytem. Warman says work started a couple of months ago. It is a $12 million project that aims to improve the town’s sewer system and how water is treated.
Warman explains that the town is taking on this project in part because of changes to provincial regulation regarding treating sewage as well as the fact that the town has not done much to it in approximately 40 years.
“We had to get the ball rolling,” he says.
Fortunately for the town, the provincial and federal governments have given grants to help pay for half the upgrades. It was a shared grant of $6 million. The town must pay for the rest
Warman says this can be a challenge. The town is bringing in some fairly new technology. The sewer lagoons will be upgraded to a SAGR system.
The town is hoping that once completed this new system will meat provincial requirements.
If that doesn’t happen, Warman explained the sewer system could need more work. This could mean an extra $2 million.
As far a challenges the town will face in 2018, the mayor says the budget will be one of them. Residents will most likely not a zero per cent tax increase this year, unlike the past two years. Warman says he has no idea how much taxes could go up at this time. He does not think it would be very high by any means but is confident that it won’t be zero.
“I think the chances of having a zero per cent tax increase again are going to be slim, so we need to find balance,” he says.
The mayor feels that the two new agreements with the M.D. will help provide some stability in the town’s budgeting process.
Warman thinks the economy will continue in it’s upswing. The town will try to figure out how to capitalize on that as a region. That could be a challenge as they don’t want to see a repeat of the past where businesses grew too fast and thus faced hardship. He wants to see the growth but wants it to be better handled.
In 2017 there was talk about conducted a municipal census due to the town not liking the results of the recent municipal census. Warman says the town will most likely not be doing a census due to cost. He said the benefit has to be worth the cost.
A municipal census could cost between $10,000 and $30,000 and the town has no guarantee of getting that back in grants. The results of a census affects the level of provincial grants allocated to a municipality.
Overall the mayor was happy to see companies hiring people, the oil and gas industry doing better and the Forest industry going strong. The town is working hard on tourism and setting a good foundation for growth.
“For 2018, I’m really excited by the fact there seems to be an up-ticking in the economy,” he says. “It’s great to hear we’re getting interest in companies outside of Slave Lake looking to do business here again.”