We promised more on the town budget. Here goes:
Somebody called us: ‘What do you know about council compensation?’ he asked. Not much, was the answer. It wasn’t mentioned in the budget documents or discussion. So we asked the mayor. What’s happened is that after two years of deferring a decision, council has accepted a recommendation of the Council Compensation Committee (made up of members of the public). It restores what councillors lost from their take-home pay when a part of their pay that had been tax-free became taxable. Mayor Tyler Warman said council had discussed what to do about that the past two budget cycles, but decided to leave it alone. Now, they’re back to parity with their former compensation, per the recommendation from the committee.
“The total impact is roughly $12,000,” he said.
Moving onto other items in the budget booklet released last month: It has some ‘community statistics,’ that give some idea of the scope of the business of running the town. For example, there are 59 kilometres of water lines to maintain, 10.5 kilometres of stormwater lines and nearly 53 kilometres of sanitary sewer lines.
The town maintained 77 hectares of park space; at the MRC there were over 9,000 drop-ins over the year. At the Legacy Centere, 78 events were booked in 2019.
On the recycling program, 76 tonnes of material was collected last year.
The bylaw enforcement department responded to 808 incidents, issued 536 tickets and looked after 41 dogs. In addition to that, the automated traffic enforcement program issued 922 tickets.
In planning and development, 441 business licenses were issued in 2019 for in-town businesses (most of those would have been renewals); 28 others were for out-of-town businesses. One-hundred-two development permits were applied for, and 12 permits for special events were requested.
What does a dollar of your taxes buy? That’s the heading above one of the graphs in the budget booklet. The answer is 23 cents goes towards police, fire and protective services. Twenty cents goes to both planning, economic development and commercial properties, and parks, recreation and community services. What does that leave? Thirty-seven cents to be divided between operations (11 cents), administration (15 cents), transfers to reserves (seven cents) and airport, library and Legacy Centre (four cents).
The town’s capital budget this year is pegged at $13.7 million. About a third of that is to come from reserves and another $5.5 million from grants, the rest from other sources.
A new sewage lift station to replace the one on Main St. near Revolution Ford will cost $2.6 million. The Gloryland road re-build and paving has a $2.2 million bill attached.
Some sort of a crosswalk at Caribou Trail and Hwy. 88 is slated for $200,000-worth of work. Upgrades to Hilda Eben and Poplar Parks come in at around $225,000.
Those are all new projects for 2020. Ones continuing from last year included the big sewage lagoon upgrade ($14.2 million roughly) and the $1.7 million hilltop reservoir upgrade.