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Council moved a few steps closer to finalizing a budget for 2020 with a motion to bring forward a budget that is $1.14 million less than Draft one, presented in late 2019.
This direction is $460,000 more than Council’s original direction, and includes an approximate $1 million increase in operating over 2019. After discussions in-camera until nearly 10pm at the special meeting of council on March 10, council came back to the chambers to make multiple decisions.
Coun. Dewly Nelson posted early the next day that council expects the budget document to be turned around and finalized at the next regular council meeting on March 17.
Nelson’s Facebook post also stated that a publicly available budget will be part of the agenda package on Friday, March 13.
He added that reserve contributions between the two draft budgets have decreased from $4M to $3.4M, down from $4.4M in 2019.
Tabled motions from last week regarding the 2020 operating budget had to be dealt with at this meeting as well.
Last week, Coun. Dewly Nelson made a motion for a report on the non-union wage cost of living allowance (COLA) increases, and requiring Council approval prior to its implementation, which was withdrawn this week.
The report from administration stated that increases of an estimated $103,000 were necessary for cost of living allowance (COLA) wage increases for non-union staff of approximately 1.9 per cent that matches the union wage increases for 2020.
Council did move to reduce the 1.9 per cent increase to 1.7 per cent.
Council then passed Nelson’s other tabled motion to reduce contracted and general services from the Economic Development budget from $132,629 to $101,828 and to adjust the Chamber of Commerce partnership agreement for 2020 to $53,000.
The Hinton & District Chamber of Commerce requested increased financial support from council to continue managing the Visitor’s Information Centre after it lost provincial funding.
This will increase town funding for the Visitor Information Centre from $22,000 to $53,000 and keeps the centre operating in 2020.
Nelson confirmed that since additional funding is coming from the Economic Development budget, it is not new money.
Coun. JoAnn Race brought forward a motion to rescind a previous motion she had voted in favour of, that would include the disc golf project in the 2020 budget for $35,500 contingent on a report and council approval.
While Race doesn’t want to see motions being rescinded often, she stated that she made a mistake in voting in favour of the motion at the previous meeting and felt this was her way of correcting that.
The project would fund a parking lot to support the Disc Golf and Mountain Bike Park.
This motion was passed and the town is no longer a funding partner in the project.
Coun. Albert Ostashek made it clear at the previous meeting that this project was an irresponsible move on councils part as there were no reserve funds assigned to the project.
Council then moved the Gerard Redmond playground back to the 2020 budget after it was pushed to 2021 in Draft 2.
FDM software needed by the fire department was reduced to $35,000 from the 2020 one-time operational budget and $100,000 was removed from reserve contributions to offset taxation.
Increases to the management grid were also reduced from $65,000 to $10,000 for 2020.
An additional $112,500 in in-camera reductions were added to the 2020 budget.
In order to meet council’s request of a $1.14 million decrease over Draft one, an additional $21,077 is required to be cut from the budget according to information recorded during the meeting by the director of corporate services. Council will be back on March 17 with a regular council meeting where they hope to finalize budget 2020.