Carbon levy impacts operating budget

Kneehill County Council completed their 2017 Operating and Capital Budgets during deliberations at the Special Council meeting held on Nov. 9, 2016 with certain challenges as there has been a further decrease in assessments, with non-residential assessment being hit the hardest particularly on the linear side.
The 2017 budget encapsulates a 14.5 per cent decrease in oil/gas well tax assessments and a 9.5 per cent decrease in pipelines assessments.
According to a press release, the linear portion of the county’s tax continues to decrease, and is projected to decrease into the 2018 budget cycle by approximately the same amount, our financial and budget challenges will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
Road construction, road maintenance, solid waste services and water have remained virtually untouched in the budget.
Through streamlining and removing those items deemed to be currently unnecessary, the County was able to provide a balanced budget that requires no borrowing and minimal usage of the County’s reserve accounts.
Net revenues are reduced by approximately $2.1 million.
Year over year costs associated with the operating the municipality have been reduced while taking into consideration large expenses such as the projected uncollectable tax losses of $800,000 and the impact of the provincial carbon levy.
The carbon levy has a direct impact on the operating budget of approximately $120,000 with an additional increase expected in the cost of goods and services in both the operating and capital sides of the budget, as vendors will be passing on their increased costs to the County.
On the capital side, $2.9 million is budgeted for our annual gravel purchase, $1.2 million for 68 miles of shoulder pull and another $4 million (carried over from 2016) for ongoing road rebuild program as approved in the Kneehill County Road Master Plan.
The MSI 2016-17 grants and carry over funds from the 2016 capital budget are being used to fund the 2017 road rebuild projects.
The Operational budget continues to prioritize core services such as road maintenance, snow removal, water distribution, solid waste, parks, and agricultural services.
It was council’s goal to complete our 2017 budget with rationalized service delivery that did not sacrifice the quality of those same services such as the roads program. As a result, there is an ongoing commitment to our roads program, dust control, sponsorships and other grant funding programs which support our residents in our communities.
Through the Regional Urban Sustainability Grant, money has been set aside to also support our small towns and villages.
Council is also looking towards 2018 anticipating further losses in industrial taxation with forecasts show that in 2018 an approximate $2 million dollar loss of net County revenues with a corresponding drop in residential assessments.
According to the press release, “Through Council’s Strategic Plan and long term visioning, we are in a good financial position to succeed.”
Our previous decisions have left us in a strong financial position with significant cash reserves and no debt.”

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