The Town of Bashaw approved its 2018 estimated $2 million interim operating budget.
The 2018 budget, presented to council during its regular meeting Dec. 14, projects about $867,917 being collected from taxes, up from $786,252 in 2017.
“We put quite a few wish list items in,” Town of Bashaw Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller told council, adding that, “It’s (budget) not ready for a complete presentation.”
CAO Fuller, during an interview Dec. 18, said its only an interim operating budget.
“We anticipate further reductions to lower the tax amount. We will be striving to minimize any increase in 2018.”
Fuller told council that historically the town made about $65,000 annually in water revenue after selling water to the Hwy 12/21 water commission. She said this money was used by previous administrations to offset any shortfalls in operating budgets.
“Most communities reserve those funds. Because of the transition in various management that didn’t happen. It was used to make taxes a bit lower.”
The majority of the operating budget expenses are from the public works department with $391,800 for water supply and distribution and $114,600 for sanitary sewage services and treatment. The school requisition is expected to be about $210,800 for 2018.
Municipalities approve interim operating budgets for the sake of paying expenses until the final budget is approved. The town will present its finalized operating budget in the New Year. The capital budget is expected to be discussed starting in January to February.
No water increases
Bashaw residents can expect a financial break next year after council approved a zero per cent increase to water and sewer rates for 2018 with costs to be maintained at 2017 levels.
The 415 residences will be charged a $25 monthly base charge and pay $2.64 cubic metre consumption charge.
Mayor Penny Shantz said she was in favour of not increasing the price this year as long as it’s not a burden for the town.
Likewise, Councillors Lynn Schultz and Rosella Peterman agreed.
“We had a considerable increase last year and it has to increase eventually but do we have to dump increase on top of increase on top of increase,” said Coun. Peterman.
To keep the price the same in 2018, the town will absorb a portion of its water purchase, $21,621, from the Hwy 12/21 water commission through its reserves.
It will cost the town an estimated $237,579 to purchase water from Hwy 12/21 commission in 2018. A portion of the purchase will be subsidized through the 2017 water surplus.
The water supply and distribution income is $324,745 and expenses are $159,480 so a potential surplus of about $166,265.
The town, however, needs to replace valves for about $11,325 and purchase 24 additional water metres at a cost of about $10,800.
CAO Fuller recommended that the town invest any remaining surplus.
Bashaw will connect to the Hwy 12/21 regional water line in January 2018.
The 20-kilometre water line constructed between Bashaw and Mirror costs about $7 million with the federal government contributing $3.5 million, the provincial government paying $2.8 million and the Hwy 12/21 commission picking up the remaining $700,000 cost.
Regional fire rescue unit
Town of Bashaw approved $74,691, its share to Camrose County for a $146,150 Regional Fire Rescue Unit.
The Bashaw Fire Department raised $74,691 towards the purchase.
“They did a great job raising that much money,” said Mayor Penny Shantz.
CAO Fuller said the Bashaw Fire Department, headed by Fire Chief Mike Andriatz, was “a bit of trail blazer” by raising that amount for a resuce unit.
“They went off to the races with it.”
The partners in the regional fire agreement include the Town of Bashaw, and the counties of Lacombe, Camrose and Ponoka.
The Bashaw Municipal Library board asked the town for $8,500, the same amount of funding for 2018 as it received for 2017.
“Our budget this year is exactly what you had last year,” Jackie Northey of the Bashaw Library told council during its regular meeting Dec. 14. “There are really no changes. We do a lot for a little.”
The library’s total budget is $33,500. Its expenses include: personnel/staff – $24,500; staff development – $250; board development – $250; program delivery – $3,000; and administration/office – $5,500.
Northey said the Bashaw library lent 14,460 items Bashaw and area residents in 2016. There were about 825 people who attended the 21 public programs.
The library’s wifi hot spot was used 16,393 times and library visitors used the library’s computers 1,880 times to go online.
The town accepted the library’s presentation and request as information.