By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
The Town of Coalhurst has a finalized operating budget for this year.
During their regular May 16 meeting, Coalhurst town council reviewed some adjustments to the town’s 2023 Operating Budget.
Council had passed an interim budget in December 2022. As they were waiting on mill rates set by the province, a finalized budget could not be passed until spring of 2023.
Throughout April and early May, council discussed various initiatives and requirements for the budget.
The finalized 2023 Budget includes paying off over $1 million in debt, increased contributions to reserve transfers to help plan for the future of Coalhurst, community event funding, strategic vision resources and investment in staff resources. It removes the Requisition Allowance collected in previous years, which had helped to maintain the town’s cash flow requirements if property taxes weren’t paid in a timely manner. With the town having grown and cash flows for the town having now stabilized, this requisition is no longer necessary reducing the taxation requirement by $23,000.
Included in the budget are the amounts requisitioned by the province for education ($763,000) and the Green Acres Foundation for seniors housing ($44,000), which will be collected through property taxes and paid to the appropriate entities.
“Overall, this adds… $243,000 required in additional taxation to the 2022 budget. This is based on all the conversations that have happened, all the previous motions in meetings,” said Mike Passey, director of corporate services for the Town.
Coun. Heather Caldwell thanked Passey for his work, noting that the 2023 Budget was “one of the best budget experiences that I’ve had”, and this was one of the most forward-looking budgets they’ve had. Coun. Scott Akkermans said he also liked the process, and felt “at the end of the day, we have a budget that will be beneficial to the community” and looked forward to the changes brought forward from the budget.
Coun. Deborah Florence noted that during the budget deliberation process, council spent a lot of time debating individual items.
“While it’s been said it’s not worth arguing over a few small items, resulting in few small dollars, I believe every dollar counts when budgeting, and it all adds up, especially when we consider it’s taxpayer dollars,” said Florence. “It’s pretty clear that I was not in favour of all of the 2023 budget adjustments and was in opposition to some of them. The changes that I voted against would have reduced this budget significantly, would have made close to an $80,000 difference in what’s needed from taxation, resulting in a lower mill rate. Nevertheless, this is how democracy and voting looks like, and this will become our Municipal Operating Budget for 2023.”
Florence said she was also pleased with the budget, and how administration stewarded the process.
“While I may not have convinced council to shave off more money, I understand that as our town grows and evolves, we’re planning and preparing for that with our financial resources, and I look forward to an even more refined and in-depth budgeting process for 2024, and hopefully we’ll be able to lower the amount of taxation needed in future years, including finding ways to offset residential taxes, increase revenue from other sources and utilize grant opportunities to their full extent.”
Council passed a motion to approve the amended 2023 Operating Budget as presented. Later in the meeting, council passed a motion to instruct administration to create a public participation plan with regards to the 2023 Operating Budget.