Big Valley council reviewed the second drafts of the 2018 interim operating and the multi-year capital budgets with CAO Michelle White at the Nov. 23 regular meeting.
The operating budget reflects a modest increase in tax revenue, anticipating an increase in property assessments.
Council is not expecting to increase the mill rate in 2018.
Water continues to be a deficit service in Big Valley, heavily subsidized through general municipal taxes.
Though users are charged at the same rate per cubic metre (m3) as the village is charged by the Shirley McClellan Regional Water Services Commission, this does not include costs of any servicing and maintenance of the system.
After considerable discussion, council voted to increase the water flat fee rate by $2 per month ($24/year) as of January 2018.
Even with this increase, water expenses will exceed the income by about $22,000.
2018 garbage and sewer rates will remain the same.
Council voted to accept the interim budget with revenues of $648,123 and expenses of $642,228 leaving a surplus of $5,895.
The expense side includes a $10,000 transfer to General Reserves.
The multi-year capital budget also passed.
2018 projects include $75,000 for sidewalks and concrete swales, $10,000 for back alley work and $30,000 for seal coating to extend the life of some sections of pavement .
Council hopes to secure outside grants to fund a new outdoor space such as a skateboard park.
Community consultations will take place over the winter to assess what the community and in particular the youth, would like to see in Big Valley.
Council voted to extend the lease area for the Big Valley Bust Out Rodeo Association.
Councillor Dwayne Grover stated his support for the lease extension on the conditions that access to the village dry dump be kept intact and the Rodeo Association would be responsible for the upkeep and insurance of the site year round.
Mayor Sandra Johnson agreed, but emphasized the importance of honouring the boundaries of an existing Bearspaw Petroleum lease and maintained that no hard infrastructure was to be built on the new leased area.
A site meeting will be scheduled for the spring of 2018 between Big Valley public works staff and Rodeo Association members to accurately stake out the area.
Big Valley Roundhouse
The safety and preservation of the Big Valley roundhouse “ruins” will be the focus of a study proposed by the Canadian Northern Society.
Based on a recommendation from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation, ISL Engineering and Land Services provided a cost estimate of $24,920 to conduct the multi-year study.
In Dec. 2016, Canadian Northern secured a grant of $5,420 for the project and has raised an additional $10,000.
A Registered Historical Site owned by the Village of Big Valley and in the care of local preservation organizations, the railway roundhouse interpretive centre is a significant tourist attraction.
The proposed study will assess the safety of the grounds and structure, identifying any preservation efforts that may be required.
Canadian Northern asked council to consider funding the remaining $9,500 required to proceed with the project.
Without the remaining funds, the society could lose the grant.
Council agreed to set up a reserve to cover the project.
Three FCSS grants were approved by Council.
The Big Valley Children’s Christmas Party will receive $500 for their annual event, the Big Valley Municipal Library will receive $2200 for community programming and the Big Valley Legion will receive $500 to support their annual Pioneer Dinner.
All three applications are for reoccurring community events that have received the same level of funding for several years.
There is still approximately $3,000 remaining in FCSS funding for the 2017 year.