Show us the money. The Town of Picture Butte council approved the 2014 Operating/Capital Budget at a regular council meeting held Jan. 27.
It’s business as usual at the town office with the potential to move forward into a new year.
“The only real changes that were recommended coming out of our budget meeting was we made the adjustment on the council meeting fees based on having five instead of seven members, as well as moving up the timetable for hiring a director of corporate services,” said Mike Derricott, town chief administrative officer (CAO).
Before council made a motion to pass and approve the budget as proposed, Picture Butte Mayor Wendy Jones addressed council to reiterate how important a town’s budget is to a community.
“Understand that this is probably the single most important document we will pass. Once it’s passed, it’s out of our hands,” noted Jones.
Deputy Mayor Henry deKok added adjustments can be made quarterly.
Derricott added the budget is a living document and things change and adjustments might need to be made.
“This is the guiding star for administration. As in the budget allows us to say, OK here’s how we’re going to move forward and here’s how we’re going to plan and implement over the course of the year.”
“That’s how we respond once council passes that budget. It is certainly something we don’t like to see changed willy-nilly or on a dime, as they say, but if there’s reason for reconsideration, by all means, council has that ability to make adjustments moving forward,” said the CAO.
Coun. Joe Watson had a few concerns regarding ramifications the proposed budget might have on the town’s tax base. Jones noted the tax base would be approximately two per cent.
“Are you telling me then, if we pass this budget, you’re pretty confident that we’re going to be asking every ratepayer to pay a two per cent rate?” asked Watson.
Jones noted it would depend on a ratepayer’s assessment.
“That’s how we would term it now. That we’re looking at a two per cent increase in the municipal portion of the budget,” added Derricott.
For clarification purposes deKok said the difference between a one per cent or two per cent increase is $11,000 over the entire town.
“Divided by six or eight hundred households and businesses and everything else like that, that’s maybe $50 a person,” said deKok. Depending on assessments, Jones mentioned if a ratepayer’s home goes down in value, the ratepayer’s taxes will stay the same or they will go down.
Derricott said philosophically speaking; it’s not getting less expensive to run the town with wages, materials and everyday expenses increasing.
“Currently, if things stay the same, we honestly don’t have the ability to even maintain our own infrastructure. Financially, I think we just want to make sure that’s kind of the message that we’re putting out there,” said Derricott, adding the town is trying to meet obligations, with some of those distantly in the future.
“Our goal in this budget as well is to build those reserve accounts that we’ve talked about and try to give us the future ability to meet those obligations,” he added.
Jones believes one-and-a half or two per cent is perfect because if taxes are regularly increased at those percentages the town doesn’t have to increase taxes five or eight per cent.
According to Derricott, the total operational budget of $ 4.599 million was proposed and a total capital budget of $ 560,000.
Municipal requisition is set to increase two per cent and a budgeted 10 per cent (approximate) increase for provincial requisitions (schools and seniors housing).