Bashaw council tackles 2017 budget

Bashaw town council sent its draft $1.8 million operating budget – with a potential 4.9 per cent tax increase – back to the drawing board.
Council, during its regular meeting April 20, asked administration for more information. There’s an expected $757,304 shortfall that would have to be covered through taxation.
Council wanted to know why Return on Investments was budgeted low.
“Typically investment income is not placed in the operating budget,” said Bashaw Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller.
“Provincial transfers are required to be placed back in for project use. Reserve income is also typically rolled back into the fund.”
Council also requested administration reduce budgeted legal fees to be set aside. They also want a breakdown of general office supplies. In addition, they asked administration to find out the amount of the Fortis Franchise fee and review the amount allocated for beautification.
A revised budget will be presented at the May 4 meeting.

Financially sound
Scott St. Arnaud of Gitzel and Company out of Stettler, presented council with its 2016 audited statements and Bashaw’s books are in order.
“We didn’t find any issues we needed to report,” he told council during their regular meeting April 20.
The town, at the end of 2016, had $3.7 million in financial assets and $1.4 million in liabilities, compared with $3.3 million and $1.1 million respectively in 2015. Of the $3 million in reserves, however, $508,000 is restricted.
Bashaw’s accumulated surplus at year end 2016 was $12.2 million and in 2015 it was $12.3 million. The town, however, guaranteed a bank loan for the Bashaw Golf and County Club with $234,700 owing at the end of 2016. In 2015 there was $250,000 left owing.
Arnaud said he didn’t find anything “out of the ordinary” in regards to property taxes. A decrease, however, in both school and lodge taxes meant an increase in property taxes.
He said there was a large drop in land sales in 2016 compared with 2015 and that was attributed to land being sold in 2015 but none in 2016.
Salary and benefits disclosure for elected municipal officials, the chief administrative officer and designated officers were as follows: Mayor Shantz – $5,370; Councillors Bryan Gust, Darren Pearson and Lynn Schultz – $3,820; Coun. Rosella Peterman – $3,752; Interim CAO Tony Goode  – $36,829; and CAO Theresa Fuller – $57,479.
Correction: The story in the April 13 issue of the Review incorrectly stated that the pesticides cabinet budgeted was $13,000. The amount is $1,300.

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