Town holds open house to give residents a look at revised 2022 budget

by Lucie Roy
with files from Colin Smith

The Budget 2022 Information Session was held at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre on Tuesday night from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Roughly 60 people attended the event to learn of the Revised 2022 Budget and address any budget-related questions they might have with Council and Administration.
Members of the Morinville Community Library, Morinville Historical Society, Morinville & District Chamber of Commerce, along with residents with questions on community services, the community bus, the sidewalks and allocation of funds were in attendance.
A Revised Budget Summary handout was provided on the 2022-24 Operating Budget and 2022-2026 Capital Plan.
The handout shows a revised tax rate change to 5 %, with an estimated impact on residential property of a $10.58 a month increase for a residential property with an estimated average value of $334,603, a monthly increase of $54.30 for a commercial property with an estimated valued of $798,661 and a $96.42 monthly increase for an industrial property with an estimated value of $1, 418,043.
A list of proposed service level adjustments was presented by Administration during budget deliberations. This included a cost review for development reviews and lot grading, eliminating the town-funded Live at the MCCC events, reducing flower planting, disposal of community bus and decreasing Council salary as well as other items.
The initial proposed 2022 operating budget brought to council by the administration in December set out a 5% operational tax increase and a special tax that would have had the effect of a 10.39% increase, for a total tax rate increase of 15.39%. The split between residential and non-residential rates would have risen to 1:1.2.

Council rejected that proposal and town operations have been funded on an interim basis while budget discussions continue.

The revised operating budget incorporates unallocated funds from the town’s Municipal Sustainability Initiative grants, and savings garnered from a council-imposed hiring freeze and administrative efficiencies.

At the Mar. 8 Council meeting, Council approved a $15,000 reduction in council’s operating budget and funds will be reallocated from individual councillors’ personal development budgets to fund council representation at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference.

In the budget, $250,000 has been allocated for Morinville’s share of the retroactive pay for RCMP officers negotiated in a recent contract settlement with the federal government. According to Financial Services Manager Travis Nosko, this is expected to be between $277,000 and $290,000.

However,  the budgeted amount may be topped up with funds that were to be directed to the Morinville Community Library to replace a missing $25,000 Sturgeon County Grant, as that grant is actually continuing.

While the current budget draft has been put brought by the administration, it continues to recommend that Council implement the originally proposed 5% operational tax increase, rather than the current 3.5%.

That is in the interest of reducing Morinville’s ongoing deficit in tax-supported spending, which requires it to draw on utility-generated reserve funds.

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