By Justin Seward
Town of Bow Island council passed its annual operating budget and the 2022 to 2024 operating financial plan at the Feb. 8 council meeting.
Council passed the 2021 operating budget in the amount of $4,381,569.
“There’s nothing out of the ordinary from previous years,” said Bow Island Mayor Gordon Reynolds.
“Revenues are still reasonably strong, taxation revenue (is) down very slightly. We were able to do without increasing too many of the fees—some small increases here and there—in some cases just rounding a few things.”
Reynolds added on the taxation side that the town’s assessor has indicated that the municipality’s commercial assessment will be down, but residential assessment appears to be fairly stable.
“The market is down a little bit, but we have had some new builds this year, “he said.
“We’re expecting our property taxes to be fairly level.”
The town is seeing a cost savings on the recycling operation and on various other things in the budget.
“The savings on the recycling will almost offset the $38,000 that we’re going to be charged by the province for policing—which previously of course was zero,” said Reynolds.
The town is also utilizing grant money to take care of few items that would normally be in the capital budget.
Reynolds predicts the municipal tax rate will remain the same from this current budget, but the town will have to factor in the capital budget to determine what impact that will have on Bow Island’s overall spending.
“We don’t spend more than we can service on that side of it,” he said.
Municipalities will not know the final percentage until the provincial budget comes out later this month.
The Forty Mile Foundation requisition stayed the same as last year.
As for the 2022-2024 operating financial plan, there looks to be some changes coming.
“This of course is a best guess at this point in time,” he said.
“We’re looking at the end of some provincial grant programs and the new fiscal framework from the province hasn’t been negotiated yet, so there’s a great deal of unknown there. If nothing changes there or if nothing comes into replace the MSI (Municipal Sustainability initiative), we’ll be like a lot of other municipalities, forced to start using reserves—which is not sustainable.”
Reynolds said he is confident that some sort of agreement will be reached with the province.
“Otherwise it’s going to put a lot communities in dire straits,” he said.
The capital budget was being worked on for the next few weeks.
Servus Community Arena
The provincial government announced on Feb. 6 that children’s sports and performance activities could return to practicing and limited to 10 people on the playing surface beginning on Feb.8.
Participants must be 18 years old or younger, not including coaches or trainers.
As a result of the announcement, Bow Island’s Servus Community will remain open.
“We hadn’t taken the ice completely out, we had shut down the ice plant (two)weeks (ago),” said Reynolds.
“When the flip flop came from the province on Saturday morning (Feb. 6), we turned the plant back on and the arena (worked) (last) week to rebuild the ice and minor hockey will be making use of the ice starting (this) week.”