If Budget 2013 passes third reading this December, Morinville Town Council is planning on spending $3.7 million to build a giant tin lunchbox at the east and west entrances to town, an homage to the hard-working men and women who leave Morinville each morning and who return to the “Family Choice” each and every night around supper time. An additional $666,666 is planned to fund three separate studies to make Morinville the Halloween capital of Alberta, all part of the Morinville Festival Society’s desire to make our community a great place for year-round ghost hunting.
Of course none of the above is true. Giant tin lunch boxes are clearly in the domain of private businesses operating in absence of an area structure plan and Halloween festivals can be done for a lot less than two-thirds of a million bucks.
But money will be spent next year, a lot of money in fact. As Budget 2013 sits at first reading, Council could spend $14.6 million dollars next year on operational and capital initiatives, wages, benefits, new trucks, consultants and whatever else is nestled into the wish list.
The Town’s top money man tells us our taxes will go up no more than 2 per cent next year, but if Council green lights everything in draft one’s wish list, reserves will need to be sufficiently drained to keep the taxes reined in at that magic 2 per cent increase.
Here’s the thing. Council has no intention of green lighting everything in the budget, as it now exists. They are going to cut this, add that, cut a couple more things, add back in part of something else, compromise on one thing and be wide apart on something else. But they are going to whittle away at the thing until it is palatable enough that we’ll buy it and they’ll have a crack at getting re-elected the following October. It’s a smart move all around.
We have an opportunity over the next 17 days to participate in the process. Most won’t, preferring to whine and moan eight months from now when the bulldozers and construction crews move in or the program we were expecting to take part in simply isn’t there anymore.
On the evenings of Nov. 6 and Nov. 8 you will find Council Chamber doors wide open for an open house. This is your chance to come out and hear how the budget process works and to vote yay or nay on each project that is planned. You’ll even be able to put in your two cents on what you think should be added that isn’t there but should be.
Nine days later, Council will hold a public forum as part of that night’s Council meeting, another opportunity to provide input ahead of Budget 2013’s second reading. Cannot make it, Council is planning to give you a chance to speak your mind from your smart phone or laptop by way of electronic survey.
It is essential for those who care about how taxes are spent in this community to come out and at the very least see where money will be spent. Otherwise, you may come home one night and find they’ve erected a giant tin lunchbox on Main Street and you’ll be left wondering why.