Forestburg passes three budgets

Written by Terri Huxley

Forestburg council approved three separate budgets at their regular meeting held Thurs. Dec. 16.

The Flagstaff Solid Waste Regional Management Association [Flagstaff Waste] 2022 draft budget recommended a total requisition of $1,291,688.85 which represents an overall three per cent increase from last year.

For Forestburg, total fees will rise to $149,669.97 from the 2020 amount of $145,449.49 – an increase of $4,220.48 or 2.9 per cent.

Based on the village’s current number of utility accounts the proposed requisition increase will rise to $9.14 per account holder per year, which is 76 cents per month per utility account.

Some municipalities have been expressing concern with any requisition increase in 2022 given the surplus position that Flagstaff Waste experienced in the 2021 operational year.

The Flagstaff Regional Housing Group 2022 budget includes a lodge requisition totalling $250,000 with this representing 39.5 per cent of total revenues.

The proposed requisition for Forestburg is $8,300, an increase of $1480 from the 2021 requisition which council approved.

Administration presented council with the village’s 2022 Interim Budget draft which council approved.

As municipalities are required to adopt balanced budgets, any budgetary shortfalls identified at this early point in the budget cycle are shown to be offset by a corresponding increase in property tax revenues.

Significant variances from the 2021 approved budget contained in the draft 2022 Interim Budget include a three per cent general increase in wage grids for municipal staff.

When combined with merit increases, the projected human resources budget increase in 2022 is expected to average at 5.3 per cent, which will be offset by a significant reduction in Local Authority Pension Plan (LAPP) premium costs.

It also includes a full-year budget built for the Forestburg Volunteer Fire Service given the uncertainty still existing on the timing of the commencement of operations of the Flagstaff Regional Emergency Services Society (FRESS).

Expenditures have been budgeted to align with the revenues derived from the Fire Levy/Special Tax on utility accounts.

A significant new expense in public works is the operating lease for the new Wille front-end loader.

The additional annual lease cost of $43,464 has been offset in the budget by corresponding reductions in public works of $42,500, largely from increases in operating costs in 2021 for one-time items (new fencing, Infrastructure Engineering Report update, maintenance costs related to traded off equipment, etc).

Projected transfers to reserves in 2022 are proposed to be $96,970, up just over 10 per cent from 2021 with an additional $10,000 contribution to the Building & Asset Replacement Reserve Account, funded from the Fire Levy/Special Tax.

Provincial conditional grants are showing a steep decline from revenues received in 2021.

The MSI Operating Grant and potentially the Federal Gas Tax Fund Transfer are the only sources expected to remain constant at prior years levels.

“For budgeting we are forecasting federal government support for seasonal employment that is being fully budgeted for as an expense,” stated the administration report.

Council’s expense profile has been increased to reflect recent approved changes to elected official honoraria, per diem eligible activities and expense increases.

Other revenue has been projected to increase as the village will be undertaking efforts to recover owing monies attributable to capital projects.

The 2022 Interim Budget will provide the foundation for council’s deliberations next calendar year on the 2022 operating and capital budgets as well as the benchmarks for the 3-year Operating Plan and the 5-year Capital Plan.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.