Interim Operating Budget accepted

Town Council has officially accepted the Interim Operating Budget for 2019.

Each year, councils across the country are required to adopt this budget alongside an interim capital budget so they can continue to dole out payroll, sign cheques and other legal items that require approval before the official budgets can be accepted later in the year.

The estimated expenditures for operating costs are totalling $17,702,529 with $18,746,647 in revenue. This leaves an approximate $1,044,118 left for capital budgetary items.

Council and Senior Administration held an Interim Operating Budget session on Tues. Dec. 11 where they reviewed any financial impacts this may have over a three year period for organizational activities.

In the evening, Council then moved to accept the budget during their regular council meeting.

“It’s a responsible budget,” said Mayor Sean Nolls. “It has everything we need without affecting those households too much.”

The three-year Interim Operating Budget forecasts a few minor increases to current utility rates such as water, sewer, garbage and recycling which will come into effect Jan. 1.

An overall municipal tax increase of two per cent is also included in the document. This will be reviewed in further detail prior to setting the 2019 tax rate.

Water rates will increase one penny from $2.79 to $2.80 for a net revenue boost of $5,902.

Sewer rates will increase by a quarter to $22.50 from $22.25 which equates to $6,340 in revenue.

Garbage and recycling rates will also be seeing this $0.25 increase.

The financial impact on the average residential customer is about a 1.51 per cent surge.

During the meeting, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Greg Switenky had mentioned Stettler is in the middle of the pack when it comes to rates.

“We do sort of trend right down the average and even lower in all four utilities and there are plenty of them that are higher than us so I think we are bang on in the ballpark given our high level of services and utilities including the age of our infrastructure,” said Switenky.

“Again, the most important thing is that 1.51 per cent [increase] when we have an economy trending down. Currently in Alberta, if we can get in the 1.51 per cent increase overall and still increase our revenue, that’s a really responsible budget,” said Mayor Nolls.

Council and Administration found the rates and property tax increase included in the three-year budget necessary due to the present and future obligations required within the community.

This forecast is meant to reflect the council’s intent to be fiscally responsible and accountable to residents in terms of high-quality service, facilities and utilities and overall quality of life.

Helping ageing infrastructure and equipment from an affordable standpoint was also kept in mind.

The 2019 interim operating budget estimates the combined amount available for capital expenditure purposes to be $1,044,118 with $676,821 coming from general revenue and $367,297 from utilities.

Apple Fitness contract renewed

In 2006, the Town of Stettler prepared a request for proposals to provide fitness equipment for the Stettler Recreation Centre (SRC) Fitness Centre.

This agreement was renewed for another five years in 2013. Apple Fitness was the selected provider based on their references for integrity in their service program, quality of their commercial equipment and knowledge of fitness trends related to equipment.

“In talking with staff of the fitness centre, they feel that their product suites our purpose,” said Brad Robbins, Town manager of recreation and culture.

Staff have been content with the equipment over the past 12 years with minor maintenance which has been limited only to worn vinyl pads, some new cables and treadmill circuit boards.

“We’ve gone past that initial investment equipment now for most of them are 12-years-old and so we wanted to make sure that part was included so we could manage the expenses for repairs as we see them over the next three to five years,” he said.

Based on the lifecycle of the current equipment, the existing space of the SRC Fitness Centre and the Town’s predictive needs moving forward, a new three-year agreement has been negotiated and renewed.

This agreement focuses on managing upcoming repairs and service costs on existing equipment along with the previously negotiated wholesale pricing Apple Fitness offers.

Chemical Bid Awarded

Each year, a chemical supply bid is sent to suppliers for process chemicals.

Historically, the Water Treatment Plant uses an average of $150,000 annually for chemicals.

The 2019 operating budget is currently set at $165,000 as a maximum.

“We tender out all of our chemicals to make sure that we’re getting consistent pricing through the year. Prices tend to fluctuate and just for security and stability reasons we wanted to secure pricing,” explained Melissa Robbins, Director of Operational Services.

Three companies were looked for their competitive prices with most of the lowest prices coming from Cleartech.

Many of the prices fluctuate up and down compared to last year as supply and demands change.

Council agreed to award Cleartech the ability to supply Citric Acid, Copper Sulphate, Sulphuric Acid, Powder Activated Carbon, Hydrogen Peroxide, and more.

Brentag was cleared to provide Aqua Ammonia, Sodium Hydroxide, and Magnafloc LT 22S while Chemtrade was awarded Aluminium Sulphate Liquid.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

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