By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Councillors got a state-or-the-union address from administration during the Aug. 9 council meeting, a presentation outlining where the community is on finances, building development and bylaw enforcement.
Despite an 11 per cent increase in population to 8,503 residents in 2011 from 7,600 in 2009, planning and development saw fewer development permits last quarter than during the same quarter of 2010, a year that was a record year for Morinville. Despite slower housing starts, Greg Hoffman, Morinville’s director of planning and development, suggests Morinville will maintain a 2.75 per cent growth rate in 2011, which is approximately 85 housing starts.
“2010 was an exceptional year and that needs to be kept in mind for subsequent years,” Hoffman told council Aug, 9, adding Morinville outstripped everyone in the capital region in 2010. “When activity levels are down in 2011, it is compared to a year that was truly extraordinary. I think what we are seeing in the census figures are some activity levels that were extraordinary.”
Hoffman went on to explain an extended winter season delayed construction starts this year, and that commercial activity was up in second quarter. The director said there has been some movement in land development itself, something he regards as a significant sign with respect to future growth.
In matters of Town finances, administration reported Morinville is operating with a $6.1 million surplus year to date. Revenues are sitting at $11.8 million, a figure that is roughly $106,000 above budget, the variance made up of increased franchise fees, fines and investment income and is offset by lower development permits.
On the expenditures side, Morinville has spent $5.7 million of its operating budget thus far, a figure $436,000 under budget due to timing of payments expected to balance out over the remainder of the year. Administration pointed out 64 per cent of Morinville’s operating budget is made up of employee salaries and contract services, with salary representing 42 per cent of budget and contract services and additional 22 per cent.
Capital costs have come in at $3.9 million thus far, the majority of that figure being $3 million for the Community Cultural Centre, the rest made up of the 107 Street paving project, manhole and road rehabilitation projects and renovations to the south pump house.
Enforcement services averaged 10 to 12 calls per day in the second quarter of 2011. In total 152 traffic violation tickets were issued, which represents 43 per cent of occurrences. The remainder were dealt with through education and warnings. On the bylaw side, Morinville Peace Officers responded to 314 complaints and issued 13 tickets. Ninety-six per cent of complaints were dealt with through warnings and education. Community Services Director Susan McDonald said warnings and education have been used throughout 2010 and 2011, and that people are starting to become familiar with Town bylaws. It is anticipated the ratio of bylaw tickets to warnings will increase over subsequent quarters of 2011 and beyond.
Council on track with budget
Council itself spent only 41 per cent of its $268,500 budget in the first half of 2011, putting it in a favourable spot. Mayor Lloyd Bertschi fees and benefits are budgeted at $36,000 per year, while each of Morinville’s six councillors is budgeted at $18,000. In addition, each member of council is allocated $1,800 per annum for professional development, the mayor $6,000. All members of council are allotted a budget of $4,200 per year for mileage and expenses another $1,200 per year for membership fees.
On the fees and benefits side, Councillor Ben Van De Walle is $2,146 under budget through the first two quarters, while Councillor Paul Krauskopf is $1,141 over the half year allocation of $9,000. On average, council is $2,680 under its half year fees and benefits budget of $184,800. Council receives a monthly allocation for meetings in town and additional funds for meetings they must attend out of town.
With respect to the $1,800 allocated for professional development, Councillor Lisa Holmes is currently at $2,932 or 162 per cent of her total yearly budget for professional development. By contrast, Mayor Bertschi has spent less than 17 per cent of the total annual development budget. On average, council is well below its half year allotment for professional development and mileage and sustenance.
The complete presentation can be found in the Aug. 9 council package.