By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
A number of adjustments have been made to the Town of Coalhurst’s 2023 budget.
During their regular May 2 meeting, Coalhurst town council discussed a series of amendments to the 2023 budget.
The first budget motion pertained to the addition of $2,000 for Online Facility Booking Software in the 2023 budget. The software would allow facility users to be able to easily access and book facilities in Coalhurst, helping to increase office efficiencies and free up staff time.
Council passed a motion that Budget Motion 74-A (Online Facility Booking Software) for $2,000 be included in the 2023 budget.
The second budget motion was for an adjustment for extraordinary meetings.
An extraordinary meeting would be a meeting that was not planned for. While members of council can attend these meetings if they so choose, there is no budget for attending. According to administration, no extraordinary meetings have taken place so far this year.
Coun. Heather Caldwell asked if council would consider a friendly amendment to the motion, by increasing the budget to $2,500.
“I would hate for us to be hampered in the work that we do,” said Caldwell, noting it would align with council’s strategic plan goal of effective governance. “It’s not saying that I want to go out and take part in extraordinary meetings, I’m comfortable with the thought to cut that budget in half and hamper council from being fully involved in these kinds of meetings.”
Council passed a motion that Budget Adjustment 11-C (Council Meeting Allowance Extraordinary Meetings) be amended up to $2,500. Council then passed a motion that Budget Adjustment 11-C (Council Meeting Allowance Extraordinary Meetings), for $2,500, as amended, to be included in the 2023 budget.
The final budget motion was for a total of three items: an updated cost for an electronic agenda system (11-A), council open houses (11-E) and MDP visioning session (11-G).
Coun. Jesse Potrie said that the updated cost for an electronic agenda system represented savings of $2,000 from the eAgenda purchase. The second item, of $3,000, stems from the strategic goal of being more engaged with the community.
“Having more open houses and more engagement processes, as we bring the public in, there are some costs involved with that,” said Potrie. “If it’s printing information packets, or posters or advertising, whatever it is, we need some budget towards that item.”
As for the final item, for $10,000, it would allow them to have a facilitator during strategic discussions on how to align town properties and where they want to go with the future of Coalhurst.
“Really, we’re looking at trying to bring economic investment to our community. It’s about investment to our community,” said Potrie. “When we look at our MDP, what we want to do with various properties in town, and our land-use bylaw and, you know, kind of all those documents that work together, it’s going to take some time.”
When he talked with other communities, one indicated they spent ten times the proposed cost, and he felt they were being efficient on this line item. However, it does cost money to do this.
Coun. Deborah Florence was opposed to 11-E and 11-G.
On 11-E, Florence said that it was indicated that the last open house cost about $300, so putting a budget for $3,000 is “a little bit high for my liking”, and it could be absorbed under cash flow or as an advertising line.
Caldwell said while she supported the motion, she respected Florence’s thought process and the rationale behind it, and would be open to a lower number. Potrie was against lowering the number, and Mayor Lyndsay Montina noted that they could always adjust it in future years if needed.
For 11-G, the town’s Director of Corporate services Mike Passey said it would be a one-time event, and it could also be funded through taxation or reserves. When asked what reserve would be best, Passey said either the 2022 surplus or the Subdivision Reserve. Potrie agreed to make a friendly amendment to fund it through the 2022 Surplus.
Council passed a motion that adjustments 11-A (Updated Electronic Agenda System Cost) of a reduction of $2,000) be included in the 2023 budget.
Council passed a motion that adjustment 11-E (Council Open Houses) for $3,000 be included in the 2023 Budget. Florence was opposed.
Council passed a motion that adjustment 11-G (MDP Visioning Session) for $11,000 be funded through the 2022 Surplus.
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