As part of the annual budgeting process, administration gave Forestburg council the latest updates in the master rates bylaw to review and pass at their latest meeting held Thur. Sept. 16.
Of note, the campground fees now align with the local golf course camping fees.
One person has asked to have monthly rates established but no action was taken as council is required to set the prices but administration offered to look further into it to incentivize longer stays.
Administration found that regular and cremation cemetery plots were undervalued after it was brought to their attention so the price increased.
“Prices so low they are dying to get there,” joked Mayor Blaise Young.
Prices were also raised for public works help in unsightly premises as before the village would charge a one-hour minimum to mow and clean up a yard but will now charge a two-hour minimum.
Council passed all three readings of the bylaw after discussion.
As administration begins its formulation of operating and capital budget proposals for council’s consideration, initial drafting work has commenced in terms of identifying cost drivers and pressures needing to be factored into projected operational and capital costing in the upcoming year.
Administration asked council for their direction at the meeting to get a general direction of what they would like to see as well as giving a heads up on what is to come including price increases across the board.
According to administration, for the first time in the past decade, inflation is appearing to be a significant cost increase driver at a magnitude far exceeding the scope of the village’s three-year operating and five-year capital plan horizons.
The annualized inflation rate at present – September-2020 to August 2021 for Alberta as reported by Statistics Canada is 3.3 per cent.
When looking at the current year eight-month rate from January to August 2021 the rate is even higher at 3.7 per cent.
As energy costs are a key element in calculating inflation, and with colder weather still to come, compounded by increased carbon levy costs and likely food and grocery cost increases given the localized drought situations in much of the province particularly hitting the cattle industry hard, administration believes the final inflation rate for the year will likely fall between 3.5 and 4.0 per cent.
As has been seen in past circumstances, the upcoming federal election and resultant victor and actions could be an additional pressure on the annualized inflation rate causing it to go even higher.
“The implications of inflation alone on the municipal service delivery costs and the overall budget are significant,” stated CAO Dibben in his report to council.
“Our upcoming cost environment is further challenged when reduced government operating and capital grants, increased carbon levy costs, and flow through costs from vendors and service providers, also facing this same economic landscape, are forecasted.”
He pointed out the village has one advantage in that the RCMP funding has been accounted for a year early which will be budgeted at $17,500 with the final forecasted amount after five years to be $45,630 as the final amount to pay annually as prescribed by the provincial government.
Another upside at the moment is housing sales going strong as well above assessed value prices.
July 1 is the cut off date for assessments while others go in next year where administration is hopeful to see a decrease which will help to offset higher values in taxation.
He added that he anticipates there will be a drop in capital grant funding,
“It will cost us more to do less,” said CAO Dibben.
Administration agreed they will continue to keep an eye on inflation and other factors that could impact the overall 2022 budget.
“The good news is that every other community is facing those same challenges – it’s not putting us at a competitive disadvantage,” said Dep. mayor Bob Coutts.
Bylaw Officer third replacement
In September of 2020, the village retained the services of J.A.G. Security 2018 Inc. to provide Bylaw Enforcement for the community.
It was asked at the most recent meeting that a replacement be accepted after the recent resignation of Riley Repchuck who acted as bylaw officer.
Council accepted the appointment of Allen Parker to be the new bylaw officer.
It was noted by councillors that this was the third time someone has left the security company since starting with J.A.G only a year ago which was frowned upon.
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Dwight Dibben shared that another firm has been contacted so new quotes and terms will be given soon.