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Town council reviews 2023 operating budget

Posted on January 11, 2023 by Taber Times

By Kenyon Stronski
Taber Times

A balanced 2023 operating budget for the Town of Taber has been prepared and was presented to council at their Dec. 19 regular meeting. The 2023 deficit has been offset by the stabilization fund Taber will receive. The overall deficit is $795,217 and the agenda states this is a variance of $139,762 from what was previously discussed at council — this variance is due to increases in things like employment insurance and benefits costs. Also included in the 2023 budget is the beginning of repayment of the long-term debt associated with the Lagoon Solar project.

“There are a few areas I would like to highlight,” began Director of Finance, John Orwa. “I know we’ve gone through this a number of times, and I’ve incorporated almost everything that has been discussed in the previous sessions, but there are a few areas that I would like to highlight.”

Orwa pointed back to the deficit, saying the variance has come from a few different things that weren’t deliberated when the unbalanced budget was brought to council previously.

“We’ve previously been using the old rates on the CPP and the BCB, benefits and all those things to project the budget, but we’ve gone to the actual cost of all those things for 2023, so that’s why you’re seeing the major difference there. There are quite a number of increases in different areas and those have now been incorporated in the budget.”

Touching on Taber’s Handi-Bus, Orwa asked if council would like to revisit the program before the budget is passed.

“Those are the areas I’d like to highlight and the rest of the areas will remain the same. The Council Discretionary Fund will still be left at $25,000 unless council wants to increase it to a given figure but if that number is okay, it will stay in the budget.”

“As per the MGA, we have to balance the current year, and then we also have the next three years and you can see the next three years still reflect deficits so it’s just a way of developing a strategy of get those fees erased and balance the budgets.”

Coun. Alf Rudd posed the first question. “What jumped out at me was the next three years and if we approve the budget tonight, are we accepting those deficits for the next few years?”

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