by Colin Smith
In the general consideration of Morinville’s 2022 budget, Financial Services Manager Travis Nosko presented Council with three alternative scenarios to the draft budget they rejected in December.
Council had called for budget scenarios reflecting its discussions on the draft budget, potential service level adjustments and other amendments.
The draft budget called for a 5% tax increase for 2022, plus a 10.39% special tax, for a total 15.39% tax increase on residential property owners.
Scenario one presented at the Jan. 25 regular meeting of council would continue with a 5% residential tax increase to go toward the operating budget, along with a 1.92% per cent increase benefiting the capital budget, for a total increase of 6.92%. The residential to non-residential tax split would go from 1.1.1 to 1.1.2 for 2022.
The second scenario provided for a 5.5% total increase, with 4% of the increased revenues to go toward the operating budget and 1.5% to the capital budget. The tax split would also go to 1.1.2.
An overall 4.5% increase would result from the third scenario, which saw a 3% operational increase and a 1.5% capital increase. The tax split would rise to 1.1.15.
The proposed special tax has been eliminated in all three scenarios.
The administration recommended that Council go with the first option, even if it decided to cut service levels, as it would reduce the projected tax-supported operations deficit for 2022, putting Morinville on the road to a stronger overall financial position.
If adopted, the average tax rate increase for homeowners would be $175.50 annually, $14.62 monthly. For commercial properties, it would be $1,095.05 annually, $91.25 monthly, and for industrial sites, $1,927.13 annually, $160.59 monthly.
All the scenarios include service level cuts that would result in savings of $154,500 over the draft budget.
These include reducing the number of hours the Morinville Leisure Centre is open by 20 hours per week, eliminating the Live at the MCCC events, reducing the number of town-organized seasonal events, cutting the flower planting budget in half and eliminating the Vacant Non-Residential Improvement Grant.
Also included in the scenarios are additional budget amendments providing savings of $107,255.
These include $34,455 in savings as a result of reduction of cost of living adjustments for non-union staff, removal of the Streetlight Banner and Public Engagement Initiatives, $42,000, and savings resulting from Chief Administrative Officer and General Manager vacancies.
As Councillor Jennifer Annheliger was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, Council referred further discussion of the 2022 budget until its February 8 meeting.