Budget Workshop Recap
Edson, Alberta, November 6th, 2018 – Town Council held a Budget Workshop on November 3rd, 2018 in the Council Chambers. The Workshop was open to the public and, for the first time, was live-streamed enabling citizens to observe the deliberation process in real time. The live stream will be available for viewing on the Town website.
After reviewing operational requirements to maintain current levels of service, and discussing any increased cost for enhanced service provision, Council is currently considering a 4.5% taxation increase for 2019. The majority of this increase is a result of the following:
- Carbon Tax budget adjustments – with natural gas and gasoline prices higher than anticipated, an adjustment needed to be made for 2019. This lead to an increase in the Budget of about $130,000, which equates to around 1.30 % increase in required taxation.
- Salaries, Wages and Benefits – an increase in personnel costs from 2018 to 2019 equates to an approximate 1.80% increase in required taxation.
- Edson Recycling Depot – the Recycling Depot forwarded their 2019 Budget to Administration, and their grant request was for an additional $135,000 to maintain current operations. This equated to a 38.8% increase from their 2018 grant. After much deliberation, Council allocated a $50,000 increase, which is a 14% increase from their 2018 grant. This equates to about a 0.50% increase in required taxation.
- The Medical Centre has been paying the Town rent for their clinic since the Town bought the building in 2011. In 2016, the last payment was made on the debenture, which had been funded by this rental income. In 2017, this revenue helped offset the 0.00% tax increase. The stability of this revenue is uncertain, as the tenants may decide to move to a new location. The loss of this revenue could have a large taxation impact therefore, in a pre-emptive move, Council directed to transfer $50,000 of this revenue to a reserve. This equates to a 0.50% increase in required taxation.
Along with the Town’s equipment replacement schedule, the 2019 Capital Budget has several other highlights:
- Replacement of the Town’s main server which has reached its end of life
- Road Rehabilitation projects, including water and sewer
- Multi-Plex Project – to allow for moving the project forward in 2019
At this time, the Multi-Plex project is budgeted at $40 million, with Yellowhead County agreeing to a 50/50 cost sharing split. The Town has managed to save $10 million in a reserve for the construction of the new Multi-Plex, with the remainder of the Town’s portion to be funded from a long-term debenture. For 2019, there is no operational budget impact, however, from 2020 onwards, there will be debenture payments to be funded from user fees and taxation. Council recognizes that this will have an impact in the future, therefore, $150,000 has been allocated into a reserve for stabilization of Multi Plex operational costs in its first years of operation.
The Budget will be adopted by Council in December, 2018 and finalized in the Spring of 2019, as there are some items that are not known at this time. Here is an anticipated timeline for the passing of the Budget:
- November 13, 2018 – Current Budget presented to Committee of the Whole
- November 14-20, 2018 – Citizen Budget Tool* launched (Exact date is to be determined)
- November 27, 2018 – Budget brought back to Council for final deliberations
- December 4, 2018 – 2019 Budget presented to Council for adoption
- February 2019 – Assessment figures released to the Town
- March/April 2019 – Requisition figures for Schools (AB Education) and Evergreens Foundation (Seniors Lodges) received
- April 2019 – Revised Budget presented to Council
- May 2019 – Mill Rate Bylaw passed, and tax notices sent to property owners.
*Citizen Budget will be launched on the Towns’ website. This is a tool that gives residents an opportunity to see how level of service decisions can affect the taxation rates on residential properties. While this is primarily an educational and informational tool, there will also be an area for comments that will be compiled and brought back to Council at the November 27, 2018 Committee of the Whole Meeting.