Draft budgets show emerging balance

The three-year draft operating budget was presented to Alix council with a few changes to highlight since the last review.

At the meeting on Wed. Nov. 6, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White noted the major highlights of the budget and what that means for councillors as well as residents.

Council passed a motion to defer to the next meeting on Wed. Nov. 20 where more details can be provided.

The Municipal Government Act (MGA) was recently changed to have all draft budgets be three years in length to ensure municipalities are looking into the future when it comes to money, infrastructure and so forth.

This interim budget must be passed by the end of the year.

Tax penalties were increased for 2021 and 2022 as it is a part of the “natural cycle regarding the tax recovery process.”

Alix’s fire department had $15,000 in reserves which have been removed for the 2020 year as the new Fire Services Agreement between the village and county has changed.

In this agreement, the current balance of shared fire equipment fund will be split half and half between the two municipalities.

The $15,000 transfer from reserves was added to the 2021 and 2022 budgets.

For councillor remuneration, budgeting was reduced because some of the committee’s councillors have been sitting on are no longer active like the Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework (ICF) committee and Lacombe Foundation Building Committee.

Wages have been adjusted by a 2.2 per cent increase for COLA (Cost of Living Adjustments) for the library.

No police costing model expenses were added into the budget.

The village is confident they will have all street signs replaced by the end of 2021 as funds were lessened in 2022.

Water revenue and expenses are still in limbo as municipalities wait to hear from the Highway 12/21 Water Commission but Alix has increased the 2022 budget amount in anticipation of rising river water costs regardless.

Draft capital budget 

The draft capital budget for the village has been described as ‘aggressive’ in terms of budgeting and associated expenses.

The lagoon rebuild project is completely dependent on grants like the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.

If the federal government were to accept this, they alongside the province would pay for 75 per cent of the project while the village would fork out $807,500.

Engineers expect the project cost to reach $3.23 million.

CAO White mentioned that the federal election has stalled progress on the grant application process as they have yet to receive any formal communication regarding its status.

“If we don’t get the grant, we can’t do the project,” said CAO White.

The search for finding an immediate replacement of the Alix public works truck has been difficult for Public Works Foreman Terry Allan.

Their previous truck was stolen and set on fire in September.

Luckily the reserve funds match the insurance pay-out for the work vehicle.

As a way to reduce freezing water and sewer pipelines within the village, a unique liner that is heated and then cooled to the exact shape of the pipe will be used in the near future.

The 2019 budget has allotted to contract an engineering firm and have this work done by spring of next year.

Unfinished road work has been added into this as well.

“It’s phenomenal. The liner is the answer,” said Allan. “It will save freeze-ups from happening.”

Subdividing Gator Park

Administration found an anomaly within Alix.

In 2012, a subdivision was approved to create a public recreation space in order to construct Railway House.

The parcel where the skateboard park is located as well as where Railway House is and Gator Park is located was consolidated.

“If something were ever to happen with Railway House as far as the sale goes, it is on the same lot as Gator Park right now so if Railway House were to sell if we developed a buyer we would be selling them our gator (statue),” explained CAO White.

One of the options suggested was to pay over $5,000 for a subdivision survey for the property.

The cost to move the chattels instead, excluding the digital sign, to Heritage Park would cost $1,000 plus the restoration of Gator Park to a green space would be $3,500.

“I like that little park there and I wouldn’t want to lose it or have to move it,” said Coun. Ed Cole.

Council chose to leave it as is until there is an offer where they will deal with it on a case by case basis.

Weed inspector

The Weed Control Act requires all municipalities to appoint a weed inspector to enforce and monitor compliance of the act.

At the time, Alix did not have an official weed inspector appointed but Groundskeeper Mona Daniels was asked and mentioned she would be willing to take this position on.

Council accepted Daniels as the inspector.

No extra compensation will be given but Daniels will have some course work and training to complete to ensure she is trained for the position.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

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