By Heather Cameron
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
At the April 25 M.D. of Taber Council meeting, the final operating and capital budgets for 2023 were presented.
CAO Arlos Crofts first proposed that the 2023 projected uncollectible property tax exposure be reduced from $1 million down to $500,000 based on the 2022 and 2023 gas property tax collections and gas property assessments. The budget also proposed an increase of zero per cent with respect to the residential property mill rate and an increase of zero per cent in the non-residential property tax mill rate.
There was a recommendation of an increase of nine per cent in farmland property mill rates with no change being proposed for the minimum amount of property tax payable per person.
Coun. Brian Hildebrandt then stated that the 2023 final operating budget proposed an increase of five per cent to water and sewer utilities in order to reach near full cost recovery excluding amortization by 2025.
“We are very much nearing full cost recovery and likely in the future, it’ll be inflationary increases. We already passed a fees and charges bylaw in December, so we’ve in effect already increased those rates by five per cent.”
The proposed 2023 final operating budget, Hildebrandt said, includes a seven per cent cost of living adjustment to salaries and wages as well as staffing allocation changes that will increase the overall salaries and wages to $8,459,055.
Hildebrand said that other noteworthy budget changes include the MSI Operating Grant allocation being doubled in 2023 to $331,264 dollars. The MSI Graveling Program Project Grant shows revenues of $647,791, Hildebrandt said, and has also been reduced to zero.
“Going forward the M.D. Graveling Program will be funded from operations and this will allow additional MSI Capital Grant allocation to be used for more meaningful capital infrastructure projects in the future,” Hildebrandt said. “In the past then we’ve been funding gravel crushing, et cetera, or the hauling of gravel from MSI and now we’re going to use those MSI dollars in a different way. When the MSI Grant sort of evolved through consolidating another grant called the Basic Municipal Transportation Grant, they indicated a portion of the MSI was the old basic Municipal Transportation Grant portion.”
Prior to MSI, Hildebrand says, the amount was always used as a revenue item for operating expenses in roads and streets. What the M.D. did, Hildebrandt said, was always develop a project that reflected the M.D.’s annual graveling program for the year and applied as a project to use the basic Municipal Transportation grant amount to subsidize or partially offset the costs of the annual ground grappling program.
I.T. security and cyber security enhancements, Hildebrandt says, include $98,000 of additional expenditures along with additional revenues of $28,000 related to the recovery of expenditures. The enhancements, Hildebrandt says, will include a suite of software along with software securities provided by Public Works contracted services.
The budget, Hildebrandt says, also includes $150,000 to prepare a transportation master plan that will analyze the M.D. of Taber’s current and future transportation needs.
Hildebrandt then switched over to the Lands Department and stated that their expenditure budget includes a $100,000 provision for the development of the Land Management Plan.
“In summary, the proposed 2023 final budget projects to provide $4,138,044 in cash from operations,” Hildebrant said. “This is an increase of $165,963 from 2022 and is cash that can be used for capital budget requirements or can be transferred to reserves for use in future years.”
There was also mention of the budget of $583,139 for police.
The Council then compared the proposed final budget to the interim budget, and the original interim budget had a deficit of $442,700 while the final operating budget being proposed had a deficit of $600,017.
Ultimately, Council moved that the M.D. of Taber 2023 final operating budget be passed as presented in accordance with Section 242 of the Municipal Government Act and also moved that the M.D. of Taber 2023 final capital budget be adopted in accordance with Section 245 of the Municipal Government Act.
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