Motion for 0% increase budget fails 4-3, look at merging FCSS services passes

tax bylaw

Motion on 0% budget fails – motion on looking at potential collaboration on FCSS and Cultural Services with County passes.

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by Colin Smith

Morinville residents should not expect to see a 0% tax increase for 2023.

A motion put forward by Councillor Scott Richardson to have council direct administration to develop the 2023 draft budget on a 0% tax increase was defeated at its regular meeting Tuesday.

Voting in favour of the motion were Richards, Deputy Mayor Ray White and Councillor Stephen Dafoe. Mayor Simon Boersma and Councillors Jen Anheliger, Rebecca Balanko and Maurice St. Denis were opposed.

“If we don’t have a zero per cent increase, I think there is sticker shock to the community,” Richardson said in opening debate on his motion. “They’re upset that we are increasing taxes.”

“I think that by [administration] putting out a number before council has a chance to see or feel the budget is going to cause an issue and backlash in the community,” he said.

“I’m fearful about a zero,” said Balanko during the debate on the motion. “My concern is that we’re setting ourselves up for failure. With our residents facing a 9% [inflationary] cost increase, I’d love to do zero, but it’s just not feasible.”

Anheliger said that requiring the next version of the draft budget to be reworked to provide for a 0% increase would delay the process. The draft will be brought to council on October 25.

“I think it’s imperative that we get the budget draft as soon as possible,” she said. “Because the longer we wait, the less time we have for public consultation and community engagement.”

White expressed his support for the motion.

“We talked a lot about maintaining the line on taxes,” White said. “I don’t see it as impossible to get there.”

St. Denis said he really just wanted to get the ball rolling.

“I feel this motion undermines the policy direction council has set forth, and the work administration has done to build the draft budget,” he stated. “I know we’re going to find a number that makes sense for our residents and business community regardless.”

“This gives us the opportunity to say we’re not prepared to see any increase in expenditures this year,” Dafoe said in support of the motion. “Will we end up there? Probably not. But if we don’t at least make the effort, we won’t get there either or close to there.”

Boersma pointed out that budget discussions began in July.

“I think if we were looking at this, we should have started talking about it on July 12,” he said. “For administration to go back and bring something before Christmas, that’s not right.”

He also referred to Morinville’s ongoing budget deficit problem.

“We need to look at a long-term future for our community and what that means. We need to work our way out of this debt-ridden situation.”

“We could have had these conservations in July,” Richardson said in his closing remarks. “But this council ran on the premise of no increases. This notion that it’s just coming out now, it’s a bit shocking to me the administration wouldn’t know this council wanted to hold the line.

“We all ran on the fact that we were going to hold the line. Now is the time to make good on your campaign promises. “

A second motion by Richardson passed unanimously.

It directs administration to bring forward to Council information on a regional collaboration service delivery model that would see Family and Community Support Services and Culture Services administered in partnership with Sturgeon County.

“This was for us to find some information about partnering with some inter-collaborative services with the county and maybe improve some lumps of funding and maybe improve our services,” Richardson said.

“Anywhere we can look at some collaboration, be it Sturgeon County or Gibbons or whoever, it’s a good thing,” Dafoe said in support of Richardson’s motion.

“We can see that we’re getting less and less dollars from the province,” Richardson concluded. “Where that will end up, nobody knows.”

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  1. So, Balanko talks about 9%. That is a far cry from the 0% asked for. How will residents react to 9% without seeing anything new for that increase?
    Just because it takes some time to deal with the budget should not be a reason to get it done asap and pick a random number….we will all still be here in the new year.
    Yes, a number will be found that makes sense to residents and businesses and it has already been spoken and the number was 0.

    • Hi Dick. I shared that Albertans have experienced a 9% cost of living increase. I would never suggest a 9% tax hike. I just wanted to clarify.

  2. Here is to the 3 councilors who at least seem to be trying to tow the line to limit tax increases for the residents who elected them. Scott, Ray and Stephen have my support.

  3. Everyone would be crying like babies about the service cuts and roads if it ended up being 0%. Laughably short-sighted by some councillors and owners alike.

  4. Ahhh yes, the populist promise of “no new taxes”! Really it’s a win-win for the person putting the motion forward, even when you lose the vote you get the adulation of many for being the one to put it forward, even while knowing it’s impossible. If I recall the numbers correctly, the anticipated tax supported deficit is sitting at around $2M, and inflation sitting at levels not seen in 40 years. To get a handle on that you would need to do se pretty drastic things…the entire library budget is only about $500,000 or so…shutting that down would get you only 25% of the way there. Beware the populist promise…can’t deliver, and if they do you won’t want to live here.

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