Bashaw councillor says CAO didn’t do her job regarding budget

Written by Stu Salkeld

Bashaw town councillor told the municipality’s chief administrative officer (CAO) that the staff member was not doing her job after council discussed the 2023 interim operating budget. The discussion was held at the Dec. 21 regular meeting of council.

Town councillor Kyle McIntosh told CAO Theresa Fuller he was not satisfied with the interim budget she presented, apparently feeling it was too rough-hewn.

McIntosh stated during the discussion over the interim budget that it’s the CAO’s job to provide a much more polished budget, and also stated he didn’t like the way it would look to the public.

“I don’t like the optics of it,” said McIntosh.

The interim 2023 budget presented to councillors included a breakdown of revenue versus expenses for the Town of Bashaw projected into next year.

As Fuller began her presentation she noted the interim budget projected an 11 per cent property tax increase but the CAO also quickly stated she continues to work on next year’s full budget, “…getting closer to something more realistic.”

At that point McIntosh stated he felt something around half that increase, in the neighbourhood of 5.5 per cent, was more acceptable.

Fuller stated while developing the interim budget she gathered quotes and other information from town departments and included them in the document, which she described as a “working document” that still requires staff to evaluate and decide what is feasible.

As well, the CAO added that the 2023 interim budget doesn’t include increased water prices from the Hwy. #12/21 Water Commission and that the Town of Bashaw is still awaiting the most recent property assessment values.

The CAO added this is only an interim budget and the full budget will be developed in March of 2023.

Readers should note an interim budget is a requirement of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) which municipalities must have in place by Dec. 31 for the following year.

Once the interim budget is in place the municipality may spend tax money for things like paying bills while the full budget is in development, which usually occurs in late winter or early spring.

An interim budget also rarely takes into account requisitions that are out of a municipality’s control, such as provincial education tax.

Near the bottom of the interim budget it was noted to balance the interim document would require $919,561.43 of property taxes, 11 per cent more than 2022.

Fuller stated that she is also looking at some of the spaces leased by the town and it’s possible there could be more revenue potential there.

Coun. Cindy Orom asked the CAO for an estimate of what a more realistic tax increase would be.

Fuller responded she would like to get the potential property tax increase down to three per cent or less, but reminded councillors some components such as water pricing were missing from the interim budget.

Mayor Rob McDonald stated the interim budget should not be viewed as the final decision.

“Nothing in here is carved in stone,” said the mayor.

McIntosh responded he believed it’s the CAO’s job to present councillors with a budget by Dec. 31, but instead councillors are presented with a budget that includes an 11 per cent property tax increase on Dec. 31, which he had concerns with.

Mayor McDonald stated he would be surprised if the 2023 property tax increase was as high as 11 per cent.

“I wouldn’t support 11 per cent,” said the mayor.

Coun. Jackie Northey asked the CAO to clarify if this interim budget was just being passed in effect to enable the town to pay bills, to which Fuller answered, “Yes.”

Councillors approved the 2023 interim budget by a 4 to 1 vote, Coun. McIntosh the lone dissenter.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.