Council holds another meeting on 2023 budget

tax bylaw

by Colin Smith

Morinville council is seeking changes in town staff to cost about $470,000 as it moves forward in the 2023 budget process.

At a special meeting to discuss the budget Tuesday, a motion by Councillor Rebecca Balanko directing the administration to bring forward adjustments to proposed full-time equivalent (FTE) positions were approved.

Also on a motion from Balanko, Council directed the administration to bring forward previously proposed cost-savings adjustments for the Morinville Leisure Centre, Morinville Community Cultural Centre and other town facilities in the next budget proposals to be presented at its December 6 meeting.

Proposed reductions in hours of operations at the Morinville Leisure Centre and Morinville Community Centre proposed by administration could produce potential savings of $455,401.

The draft 2023 operating budget initially presented to council at its October 25 meeting included increased administration staffing equivalent to 4.05 new FTEs.

Changes would take place in the Administrative Services division, where a tax and utility clerk position would be reclassified to full-time from .6, and community engagement and partnership specialist would go from temporary contracted to a full-time permanent position.

The Community and Infrastructure Services division would gain two new permanent full-time positions, one administrative support and the other a parks operator II.

A full-time seasonal position would also be added to the division, a .4 FTE increase, while the deputy fire chief, operations position would go from .25 to .5 FTE.

According to an administration presentation, the additional FTEs are responsible for about 45 per cent of the $1.044 million in increased staffing costs in the proposed budget.

Those costs include salaries, wages, benefits, training and payroll costs.
Administration recommended the new positions to support organizational effectiveness, employer compliance, risk mitigation and employee safety and wellness.

The proposed staffing adjustments are to be based on discussions that took place after council went into closed session, with only Chief Administration Officer Naleen Nayaran present, and their specific nature was not stated in open session.

Council Stephen Dafoe had called for the closed session to discuss “labour-related” matters.

Council unanimously approved a motion to that effect, justified by Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act S.17 (disclosure harmful to personal privacy) and S.24 (advice from officials).

The measures are part of council’s efforts to cut costs to reduce the 10% tax increase recommended by administration for 2023, while taking into account the need to build Morinville’s financial reserves.

The administration has put forward a couple of other budgetary options, with tax rates of 8% and 6%. Council has so far declined to endorse any of these options.

It will also bring forward a 4% tax rate scenario to the next council meeting, in response to a request from Deputy Mayor Ray White.

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