By Cole Parkinson
With spring in the minds of many, Vauxhall town council got a firsthand view of changes coming within their 2021 budgets.
Over two meetings held on March 1 and March 15, town administration highlighted their newest budget which sees a total general operating deficit of $353,929.
“We can have (a deficit of up to) $452,500 with our amortization,” added Chief Financial Officer Wendy Bergen.
From property taxes, the budget shows $1,178,550 in revenue and $771,750 in expenditures. There’s a council expenditure of $80,350 and an administration deficit of $253,078 ($167,376 in revenue and $420,454 in expenditures). From an emergency perspective, there’s a fire expenditure of $66,100, a disaster services expenditure of $11,285 and a bylaw deficit of $11,225 ($18,300 in revenue and $29,525 in expenditures).
Other town services include a roads/streets $85,900 deficit ($243,200 in revenue and $239,100 in expenditures), storm sewers have $7,700 in expenditures, a water $34,552 deficit ($453,025 in revenue and $487,577 in expenditures), a sanitary surplus of $2,800 ($103,500 revenue and $100,700 expenditure) a garbage $67,105 surplus ($144,700 in revenue and $77,595 in expenditures) a landfill $69,951 deficit ($69,951 in revenue and $139,902 in expenditures) and there is a recycling $980 surplus ($47,000 revenue and $46,020 in expenditures).
FCSS sees a $9,400 expenditure, the cemetery is an $11,190 deficit ($3,000 avenue and $14,190 in expenditures), planning has a $12,463 deficit ($9,658 in revenue and $22,121 in expenditures), economic development is a $13,300 deficit ($200 in revenue and $13,500 in expenditures) and subdivision has $40,000 in revenue.
In terms of recreation, the arena runs a $81,435 deficit ($127,500 in revenue and $208,935 in expenditure), curling is a $14,370 deficit ($25,000 revenue and $39,370 in expenditures), the Hall has a $2,355 surplus ($34,500 in revenue and $32,145 in expenditures), the meeting room is $1,870 deficit ($500 in revenue and $2,370 in expenditures), the pool is a $53,640 deficit ($53,400 in revenue and $107,040 in expenditures), the ball diamonds are a $6,500 expenditure and parks are an $41,510 expenditure. Also, the arena concession sees a $350 surplus ($1,500 in revenue and $1,150 in expenditures) and programs are an $8,500 expenditure.
The Vauxhall and District Chamber of Commerce made the same request from last year which would see funding from both the town and Municipal District of Taber.
“The chamber of commerce was requesting to cover their shortfall of $10,000 between the M.D. of Taber and Town of Vauxhall,” added Bergen.
“I’d commit what we did last year ($4,000). If the M.D. comes back with something less than $6,000, that’s the chamber’s dilemma,” stated Deputy Mayor Ray Coad.
A motion to provide the Vauxhall chamber with $4,000 was carried.
It was also pointed out that while groups could still approach council for funding, there wouldn’t be nearly as much as there might be in years past.
“I think we have to have these conversations with anyone who is looking for money from council. There just isn’t the money, we don’t get the grants but they also don’t get the grants. They’ll have to fundraise to exist or put it to their memberships,” said Mayor Margaret Plumtree. “I don’t want them to be surprised when we can’t afford to be giving out the dollars.”
Another group looking for some funding was the Oldman Watershed Council.
“I’m wondering if we don’t send in for the Oldman Watershed. I’m concerned with what’s going to be coming down in the provincial budget. Not just this year but the next couple of years. The province has definitely been showing that part of their plans to get Alberta back on track is to download onto municipalities which means we have to download onto our residents. I think we have to be mindful of that plus we are hearing MSI. They are wanting to get rid of that so we don’t know how many more years of that are left,” continued Plumtree.
Coun. Richard Phillips stated they should look at supporting the Bow River Basin Council if they were going to provide funding to the OWC.
A motion to provide a $125 donation to each council was carried.
The Vauxhall Public Library requested $25,000 in funding for the year.
Council was in favour of providing some sort of funding, but it was suggested to lower the amount.
“Personally, I’d be comfortable going up to $20,000,” said Plumtree.
A motion to provide $20,000 to the Vauxhall Public Library was carried.
A motion to approve the operating budget as amended was carried.
In the capital budget, lagoon cells are listed for $19,997 (Federal Gas Tax), sidewalk replacement is at $100,000 (MSI capital), roadsand bin is $17,000 (MSI capital), pipe bursting machine is slated for $42,700 (MSI capital), zamboni room is $56,000 (Federal Gas Tax), signage is $5,000 (reserves), handhelds are $12,000 (reserves), paving pool area is $50,000 (MSI capital) and fire hydrant replacement is at $50,000 (MSI capital) for a total of $352,697.
A motion to approve the capital budget as amended was carried.
The five-year capital plan sees projects of downtown revitalization ($10,000) and a lift station replacement ($250,000) in 2022 for a total of $260,000.
In 2023, there’s a purchase of a half-ton truck ($35,000), sanitary outflow – pumps/control upgrades ($356,000), sanitary outflow – bypass trunk force main ($178,000) and sanitary outflow – gravity outfall ($265,000) for a total of $834,000.
In 2023, there’s a rink floor upgrade ($1 million) and a rebuild/repave of 1st Street ($300,000) for a total of $1.3 million.
The final year of 2025 has complex paving ($500,000) and rebuild/repave of 1st Street ($300,000) for a total of $800,000.
A motion to approve the five-year capital plan as amended was carried.