Interim Budget enters secondary stage

The 2019 Interim Operating Budget has proven to be ever changing as the bottom line has now changed to reflect council wishes.

At the regular council meeting held on Wed. Dec. 5, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White gave details surrounding the changes and how they will affect next year’s outcomes as part of the second draft budget.

The new security cameras that were accepted at the last meeting for $19,000 has been added into this new draft but CAO White sees this number decreasing as they barter to remove the expensive solar-powered cameras from the agreement.

For Roads and Streets equipment, parts and supplies, this number has moved up by $9,000 because public works is anticipating the riding lawn mower will be replaced near the end of the season.

The large sign located at the north end of Main Street in Alix has been known to cause issues at night when it is brightest. Administration is going to look into how to dim the sign for night time.

The Railway House has a final lump sum payment of $30,000 to Creative Infrastructure in January as part of their agreement.

This money will be coming out of tax revenue instead of grant money.

With this added in to the budget, the Village is expecting a surplus of $61,694.

Water rates were also a major topic of discussion.

The second draft of the budget listed an increase to $143,016 compared to current revenue coming in at $116,340.75.

CAO White explained that the water rates do not have to be made effective on January 1 if they don’t feel confident with the numbers either.

Earlier this year, Alix Council made the decision to slash their Franchise Fees by as much as 12 per cent.

After a long process to bring those prices down, council was adamant not to hike water prices as much as they could.

The Highway 12/21 Water Commission is requesting $60,000 from its members for a reserve that will be useful in case of technology replacements in the years to come.

The Alix Interim Budget had included water rates that were set at $3 per cubic metre to comply with their contribution to this reserve.

The meeting to determine the official budget had not taken place yet but many municipalities are hoping to see this number drop down to $40,000 to help ease the pain of tax increases for residents.

Coun. Vicki Soltermann determined from her own budgetary investigation that the village could get away with $2.92 per cubic metre.

She asked that they not determine the utility rate yet until the Water Commission’s budget is determined.

“It would be preferable if the residents would have a little notice or heads up before we do any utility rate changes for them so maybe after the meeting where the budget is voted on, we would need a meeting cycle to do the bylaw to do any changes,” said White.

Council made a resolution to accept the budget but will table a utility rates bylaw to the January meeting in anticipation of the Water Commission’s decision.

Multi-year capital budget

Alongside the operating budget, council must also review their multi-year capital budget.

To begin, the delayed start to the main lift station project will have the lion’s share of expenditures in 2019, although, the bulk of the expenses is covered by approved grants.

Public Works wanted to begin bypass pumping until the project is completed in January but are now hoping to start immediately after the holiday season. This will push back the completion date by three weeks.

“The concept of having overland pumping fed by a generator through the Christmas season wasn’t really something that we decided to go with,” said CAO White. “I’m comfortable that was the better choice for the sake of our staff.”

The Lagoon Cell 6 Repair was based on the engineers report to council about what determined after their study of the lagoon.

At the time, they gave a report of how much repairs were going to cost; a cost that was predicted much lower than what is now being asked.

The initial cost was about $619,000 to repair the cell and replace structures that join the cells together.

Once the engineers were asked, they produced new documentation with a much larger price tag at $3.23 million to do the cell repair they recommended initially.

“They found that there were a couple of sections of berm in Cell 5 as well as in Cell 6 where there is sandy material in the berm that is permeable and it’s allowing affluent to go from one of the cells into another cell so this is a problem,” described CAO White.

The material used for the liner that separates the cells was also of concern. The original quote was about redoing the clay lining but now that composition is outdated.

They recommended a new synthetic liner.

The Village has applied for federal funding and provincial funding that would take up 75 per cent of the cost to do these changes.

“It was an interesting development and a significant deviation from what you see in the capital budget here in front of you,” said White.

She recommended they approve the capital plan as amended allowing the Lagoon Cell 6 repair to reflect $3.23 million.

The berms were constructed in the 1970s and then modified in 1992 to accommodate for the malting factory which now has their own dedicated cells.

A resolution to accept the multi-year capital budget as amended to include the cell repair cost was accepted.

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

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