Council and administration have been in budget discussions throughout the later part of 2014 and at the final council meeting of the year, Dec. 22, the 2015 budget was approved.
“We can’t get away with less than a two per cent tax increase,” Chief Administrative Officer Mike Derricott told council in what was his final council meeting, as he begins 2015 as CAO in Edson. He said with the small tax increase and the increase in assessment in Picture Butte the town will be able to work with the new budget. “This is a living document,” he added, noting municipalities are always at the mercy of the provincial budget, which can impact what grant funding may or may not be available in the New Year. Derricott said adjustments can be made in 2015 once provincial grant funding values are known. He noted any decisions that directly impact the budget should always be brought back to council for review. The 2015 budget does include funds for an increase in wages for town staff and the addition of new positions in public works. A total of $15,000 has been budgeted for recruitment, as the town is now looking for a new CAO. The town also budgeted $10,000 for a census.
Funds are allocated for ambulance and the fire department including an additional $5,000 for volunteer honourariums and over $13,000 for upgrades and new equipment. The town is earmarking $75,000 for recreation master plan consulting but will utilize a Regional Collaboration Grant to cover the cost. The budget includes over $775,000 in the street budget for asphalt repairs, street sign upgrades, sidewalk and curbing for Rogers Avenue and rehabilitation of streets in Piron Place, projects that will also make use of grant dollars. Water, sewer and garbage projects under the 2015 budget include $20,000 for a three-year fire hydrant replacement project, $10,000 for a compressor replacement, $9,000 for a camera/flushing program and $5,000 for garbage replacement bins as needed. Under parks and recreation the town has allocated $8,000 to the spray park design, $20,000 for the regional park bathroom facility and $7,000 for a new mower. The town has also set aside $7,500 for a multimedia PA system upgrade at the community centre.