The Town of Beaverlodge Council approved the town’s Operating and Capital Budgets during a meeting held Monday, March 23.
The focus of the 2020 budget was to maintain existing services and program levels, while striving to minimize any tax increases to residents, despite rampant reductions in provincial funding.
Stated in a release published by the Town, Thursday, for a typical house assessed at $250,000, the total annual impact for Town Services would equate to $67.34.
The Town also regarded in the release, the reduction of the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding revenues from 2019 and the provincial government’s decision to bill its municipal counterparts for policing costs has had a huge impact on it’s operating budget.
Town Council has committed to maintaining a sustainable level of service with modest tax increases. As a result of the provincial reduction of the 2019 MSI operating funding from $85,159 to $29,861 (a reduction of approximately 65 per cent) for 2020, the resulting tax rate increase equates to roughly 1.75 per cent.
“(Council) actually didn’t want to increase taxes at all, but we had no choice because we couldn’t cut any more than we already did,” said Tina Letendre, with the Town of Beaverlodge.
“The only other option was to minimize staffing and they weren’t ready to do that at this time.”
Furthermore, as the province has mandated municipalities now pay for policing costs, the additional expenditure of $48,781 has also demanded an increase to the tax rate by approximately 1.63 per cent. The total increase between the two factors being roughly 3.38 per cent.
In order to ensure taxpayers did not see a substantial increase in their tax rates, Town Council recommended the following adjustments in order to see the tax rate increased by three per cent as opposed to the initial 3.38 per cent:
- Increase the town’s bulk water by $1.25 per cubic metre
- Increase the sewer consumption rate by .17 cents
- No cost of living increase for town employees
- Reduce Mayor and Council monthly honorariums by 10 per cent
- Increase the utility bill processing fee by .25 cents
- Reducing additional budget items
Additionally, the range of services and programs being funded by the budget also provides for investments in renovating the Community Centre and fencing the new Fire Hall land for training purposes.
Capital investments carried forward from the 2019 capital budget are as follows:
- Sidewalk Program
- Valve/Hydrant Management
- Asset Management Plan
- Manhole Replacement
- Storm Water Management Plan
Via the release, the town has committed to ensuring efficient and effective operation to maximize the benefits from the tax dollars contributed by residents and businesses.
The town announced its overall financial condition to currently be stable, though at this time challenges presented by the continuing COVID-19 pandemic raise a degree of uncertainty. Furthermore, the town reassures residents the budget is balanced, and surpluses have occurred in each of the past three years.
Reliance on the Town’s line of credit for cash flow is minimal and reserve accounts have been replenished, which, regarded in the release, may allow for future infrastructure renewal with no major increase in tax rates or user fees.