Bashaw avoids tax increase on operating budget

Town of Bashaw council passed its $1.8 million 2017 operating budget May 4 and residents will only see a .77 per cent increase in taxes for the town’s operations.
Council still has to discuss and pass its 2017 capital budget.
The .77 per cent tax increase amounts to an extra $710,655 that the town needs for its operating budget instead of the expected $757,304 shortfall.  In 2016 the town collected $705,192.
Council sent the budget back to administration at its April 20 meeting for tweaking and to avoid a 4.9 per cent tax increase. Coun. Lynn Schultz praised the town for only a .77 per cent increase.
“We did some refinements,” said Bashaw Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller.
She said since administration did the draft budget in April, the town was approved for an $8,400 STEP grant to hire a student. In addition, projects weren’t done last year that were budgeted, such as painting the water tower.
The town collects about $18,000 each year for a Fortis franchise fee and this year $13,000 of that will go towards town beautification. Last year the town only put $8,500 towards beautification.

Renews auditor agreement
Council, during its regular meeting May 4 unanimously voted in favour of continuing with auditor Gitzel and Company. The town’s contract with them expires Dec. 31.
CAO Fuller said sometimes it’s good to switch auditors.
“If you get too good of a rapport it can be difficult and you can get a bias.”
Coun. Bryan Gust said there were “advantages” to using the same auditor adding that the town has used them for “quite awhile.”
CAO Fuller agreed Gitzel and Company are efficient.

Talking trash
Bashaw council is reviewing its contract with Can Pak for garbage and recycle pick up in town. They are in the final year of a two-year extended contract. The original contract was for three years with an option for another one or two-year extension.
Council discussed whether to have garbage picked up in the front of homes or in the back alleys.
CAO Fuller said the alleys are taking a beating with the heavy trucks driving on them when the road is soft and wet.
“Those alleys take a pounding because of it.”
Coun. Lynn Schultz said he didn’t want to see garbage picked up in the front streets and prefers to have it picked up in back lane.