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Coalhurst council discusses personnel budget

Posted on November 17, 2022 by Sunny South News
From left to right: Coalhurst councillor Heather Caldwell, Councillor Jessie Potrie, Mayor Lindsay Montina, Councillor Scott Akkermans, Councillor Deborah Florence.

By Kenyon Stronski
Sunny South News

At the Nov. 1 regular meeting of Coalhurst town council, as is custom come this time of the year — the budget for the 2022-2023 years was presented by the Director of Corporate Services, Mike Passey.

“So, yes we jump into the budget, something I enjoy doing and I’m not sure how enjoyable it is to everyone else, but it’s always a fun exercise in problem-solving and resource allocations to compare something. In the document that was sent out to you, it starts off with breaking out the personnel aspect of the budget. Personnel is an area that peppers throughout the entire organization but it’s easier to deal with it as a single entity rather than go into each department.”

Passey notes doing the budget this way, and lumping personnel together helps eliminate a vast amount of confusion on why one aspect of the budget may be costing more in one year than it may have been in previous years. This way it can all be discussed as one separate conversation, and salaries won’t inflate the budgets of their operating branch.

“So, salaries, wages and benefits will see an increase of about $148,000 and that comes with a couple of different parts. The main part being a cost of living adjustment for the current positions and that makes up around $50,000 of it and the other part of it is a reallocation of positions and new positions being added over discussions with council over the last couple of months. It made clear the discretion that council was looking to invest in recreation and public works and make sure that the town can continue to provide those services and continue going forward.”

“We took what was in discussion previously on a part-time fire chief where the discussion had been ‘okay, let’s make the topic, move forward with it with a part-time fire chief’ but the discussions with the current fire chief and operations meeting at the time it was determined, or, discussed, at this time that role of a half-time compliment isn’t quite needed, so that kind of freed up some funds available relocate elsewhere.”

With the funds being allocated, Coalhurst was able to support funding their half-time recreation coordinator position into a full-time position, with Passey also adding there is a new public works position that will be coming in 2023.

“I’ve included a table of just kind of where the town is at as far as its infrastructure 10 years ago to where it is now. The amount of maintenance and care that is required on that has just increased, and the total number of employees the town has, has not kept up with that and public works is noticing the need for additional assistance in being able to complete and maintain the infrastructure.”

With the main overview finished, the floor opened for questions — and Coun. Scott Akkermans shot the first one.

“Just a question on the cost of living allowance — I couldn’t find it, but I was under the impression that we had done a two per cent increase at the beginning of the year and then we’re looking to maybe retroactively add another two per cent in the summer. I can’t remember if that happened or not – I know that was on the concession table a long time.”

Passey responded that wasn’t a conversation he recalled, however, he did know a two per cent increase was added on April 20 of this year, “perhaps before my there was a discussion to have that format, but it’s not familiar to me at this point.”

Coun. Jesse Potrie joined the discussion, saying he does recall having a debate on the topic at the time, and the information he remembers was that it was at a four per cent increase.

“We did debate whether or not going the full four per cent or not because we had only been in the interim at the time and we weren’t sure when the tax revenue was going to land regarding our property collection assessment. That was the reason we didn’t choose to do a full four per cent at the time.”

He then directed a question at Passey. “Previously we had discussed the legislative assistant or something like that position but I think when Mike was interim CAO and I didn’t see that mentioned here.”

Passey confirmed that position would have already been covered by budgetary funds that were approved in previous years, and there would be no change moving forward.

No motion was required for council to receive the budget information.

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