by Colin Smith
The Town of Morinville may operate on an interim budget for the first part of next year, rather than seek to pass the full 2022 Operating Budget and 2022-2026 Capital Plan before the end of this one.
The budget presented by the administration proposed a 5% municipal residential tax increase in 2022 and a 14% non-residential tax increase, with an increase to 1:1.2 ratio of residential to non-residential.
Also proposed was a 0.81% special tax on all assessable property to raise $1.08 million to support road and sidewalk replacement.
The average homeowner for a property valued at $331,629 would see a $126 increase in taxes and $269 for the special tax for a combined increase of $395 (roughly 15% over last year).
The Consolidated Operating Budget reflects revenues totalling $24.4 million, representing an increase of 5.9% over last year’s budget. The Consolidated Expenses total $23.7M, an increase of 6.3%.
The Capital Plan includes proposed general infrastructure investments totalling $2.5 million and proposed utility infrastructure investments totalling $501,000.
Richardson moves for an interim budget to give Council time
After Administration’s budget presentation at Council’s Dec. 6 meeting, Councillor Scott Richardson moved that the administration bring forward an interim 2022 budget for Council’s consideration.
Richardson indicated he believes Council needed more time to consider the budget premises.
“My first year on Council, we passed an interim budget and we weren’t this rushed,” he said. “I think that this budget right now seems really rushed. We all came here and were elected because of things we want to bring to the table. I don’t think we’ve had the opportunity to look at those.”
Councillor Ray White expressed his support for the motion.
“I think this process has gone a little fast for me,” White said. “I’m not comfortable with it. As a result, I would like to see the interim budget to give us a little more time with it and maybe some more input
The motion passed unanimously.
Council then passed subsequent motions introduced by Richardson, calling on the administration to bring forward the council and administration remuneration policies to its Jan. 18 committee of the whole meeting for discussion.
“I can see some increases,” he said. “I think we need to see if the remuneration is where Council wants to be or even if we want to freeze or stop some of these inflating costs in there.”
Richardson noted that during the last term, Council had moved to raise the compensation of Town of Morinville employees to the median in relation to other Alberta municipalities.
“I thought we should look at that and see if it’s the direction we want to go.”
Financial Services Manager Travis Nosko pointed out that an interim budget must be adopted before the tax rate bylaw is approved, the deadline for which is Dec. 31.
Council then has until the fiscal year-end, March 31, to pass the full operating and capital budgets.
Nosko said that an interim budget is intended strictly to maintain basic operations.
“An interim budget means we keep the lights on and that’s it,” he said. “So the longer the interim budget goes on, the more delayed we are on things like construction design, resolution of contracts and spending above the absolute minimum.”
Interim budgets are often based on a certain percentage of the previous year’s operating expenses, for instance, 50%, he said.
Richardson called for budget deliberations to resume no earlier than January 25, to allow for discussions related to his subsequent motions at the January 18 committee of the whole meeting.
Publisher’s Note: This article was updated to include information on the tax impact in dollars for an average Morinville home. That info was omitted from the original article.