Morinville – After adding and subtracting many items, Council unanimously passed Second Reading of the 2014 Capital and Operating Budget, decreasing the proposed budget by $45,500, the difference between 98,000 in cuts and 52,500 in additions.
Administration provided an overview of the feedback from the two public open houses held Feb. 18 and 19 at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre. The four most popular projects as voted on by 76 residents attending the open houses were: arena/recreation complex (264); affordable housing (65); land purchase (51); organization and operational review (44). An online survey was also quickly built at no cost by Town staff and is currently being used to solicit input from residents who could not attend the forums. No residents attended the Public Forum that was scheduled during the Feb. 25 Council Meeting.
Councillor Dafoe made the motion to approve Second reading of the budget, which triggered a number of amendments to the proposed budget. “Council can still make additional changes based on feedback prior to passage of Third Reading,” said CAO Deb Oyarzun. She also advised that the current budget proposal includes only $35,000 for the Morinville Festival Society, rather than the $50,000 that was requested by Chair Paul Smith to cover 2014 St. Jean Baptiste Festival costs and a deficit from the 2013 edition of the festival. Council will review that item prior to final budget approval.
In a subsequent motion, Council directed Administration to prepare a report outlining the impacts of holding the expenditures of Community Services, the Community Cultural Centre and other Programming areas at 2013 levels, saving approximately $93,000. That report will be on the Mar. 11 agenda, along with Third and Final Reading of the budget.
Above is a breakdown of how the 76 residents who attended the Feb. 18 and 19 Budget Open Houses allocated their budget dollars. Below are details on Council’s debate with respect to that public direction. Residents also have the opportunity to participate in an online survey at morinville.ca.
Amendments By the Numbers
Fitzgerald – moved to increase the budget for the review from 50k to 100k so that the work is completed in one year rather than two. Councillors will define the project scope and desired outcomes during the closed Council Conversation session taking place on March 11, however Councillor Dafoe clarified that the review “is not a head hunt”, but rather about finding efficiencies within the Town organization, including how Council functions and operates with an eye to overall savings. Mayor Holmes concluded that “it’s not at all about the money, it’s about showing commitment to the project.” The amendment was carried unanimously
Boutestein – moved to remove the $7500 for Building Community Capacity, a project that is designed to enhance community leadership and involvement.
Councillor Barry Turner – moved to increase the Council Engagement with Community budget by $2500 to a total of $10,000. Carried 4-3 with Dafoe, Ladouceur, Fitzgerald opposed.
Holmes – moved to remove $10,000 from the Building Replacement project, which was to be used to replace the windows at Perras Place. The motion was carried unanimously.
Dafoe – made a motion to amend the amount of the Traffic Engineering Study from $45,000 to $22,500 after Administration reported that new quotes provided by consultants saw a decrease from the original price. The Study will identify inconsistencies around town with respect to traffic signage, which may be corrected in the future. Councl voted unanimously in favour of the motion.
Ladouceur – moved to axe Council’s 3% pay increase for the 2014 budget year, however subsequently withdrew it as it was unclear as to whether or not the increase had been included in the proposed budget in the first place.
Ladouceur – made a motion to reduce the Tree Planting & Open Spaces Enhancement budget to $50,000 from $63,000, stating that the tree prices were too high and that it was reasonable to extend the program over multiple years. The enhancements include park benches, solar-powered trail lights and garbage cans in the Town’s open spaces. The motion was carried with Councillor Dafoe casting the only opposing vote.
Boutestein – moved to remove the purchase of floor cleaning machine from the budget at a savings of $15,500. Administration advised that the current piece of equipment is consistently in the shop being services and likely won’t last another year. Council opposed the motion unanimously.
Dafoe – moved to take the $25,000 MCCC sign out of the budget since the banner that has recently been erected provides appropriate information for this year. The motion was carried with Fitzgerald and Turner opposed.
Ladouceur – moved to reduce the Off Leash Dog Park project by $20,000 to $50,000. Councillors mused about obtaining corporate sponsorships to fund any project overages and supported capping the tax-supported portion of the project. Council approved with motion with Dafoe opposed.
Boutestein – made a motion to remove the Fire Emergency Warning Lights from the budget at a cost savings of $38,856. While Boutestein suggested that this light installation could be delayed, Administration advised that it is actually a WCB issue that needs to be mitigated. The motion did not pass with Councillors Dafoe, Putnam, Ladouceur, and Fitzgerald opposed.