Breaking News

Interim budget for 2020 approved

Masha Scheele

An interim operating budget for 2020 was approved based on the operating expenditures from 2019 of $31,261,055.

Council also approved to carry-forward capital projects from 2019, that were approved in the 2019 budget process but not yet completed.

“As we work on budgets, legally we have to have one to move forward to do the business of the town while we work on the next year’s operating budget,” stated Coun. Ryan Maguhn at the regular council meeting on Dec. 17.

According to the report in the agenda, the approval of an interim budget delays the 2020 Capital Plan, and could result in 2020 capital projects to be put on hold pending final approval of the five year plan.

The five year plan will impact administrations ability to meet commitments and timelines. 

By the end of January 2020, administration will bring back a report and recommendations including a taxation requirement reduction no less than $1.6M of the previously presented budget.

Council asked administration on Dec. 3 to provide a report and recommendations for the 2020 operating budget with at least one third of the recommendations coming from operations besides transfers to reserves. 

If the approval of the three-year operating budget is delayed past March 2020, the approval of the tax rate bylaw could also be delayed. 

Tax notices are traditionally sent out by May 15 and the taxation collection due date is at the end of June. 

The Interim Operating Budget will allow for Town business to continue until the final 2020- 2022 Operating Budget is approved.

The five-year Capital Budget and 2020 Capital Budget were not presented for decision at the regular council meeting on Dec. 17, as administration requires more review to meet the direction set by Council.

During four public meetings in November, administration presented a draft 2020 budget of $2 million dollars more than the 2019 budget, representing a 16.64 per cent overall increase.

During these meetings, administration explained that $14.7 is required to cover current service levels, pay into reserves after years of depletion and to cover unplanned expenses that occurred in 2019 that will carry over into 2020.

After taking into consideration last year’s half million dollar surplus due to increased property assessments, the budget represented an actual 8.24 per cent taxation increase to citizens.

Three new positions approved in 2019, legal costs of more than half a million dollars, reserve fund increases, a total reserve reduction, and inflation were responsible for the jump in the budget. 

The 2020 interim budget will allow for additional time to review budget 2020.