‘Holding the line,’ but for how long?
After humming along on a preliminary budget for more than three months, M.D. council made the 2017 budget official. The capital portion calls for $8.7 million in projects for this year. These include the paving of Poplar Lane, re-surfacing West Mitsue Road and an upgrade to sewer infrastructure in Smith.
“Other projects include structural work to the Widewater and Flatbush complexes as well as the administration building, construction of a walking trail in Smith and the re-surfacing of the M.D.’s portion of the walking trail to Devonshire Beach.”
Most of this work, the written report goes on to say, is funded through reserves and grants.
The M.D. took a hit on tax revenue this year, thanks to a drop in assessable property. Much of this was the ‘linear’ category, and most of that in the oilfield. It came in at around $900,000 less than the previous year. The total budget shortfall is estimated to be $2.7 million. The plan is to cover that from reserves.
“Revenues are about a million dollars less than last year,” director of finance Jason Warawa told council. “Expenses are more or less in line.”
Following the budget, council passed the tax rate bylaw, which sets the mill rates needed to collect the amount needed to run the M.D. this year, as expressed in the budget. Warawa, in his report for council, stressed again the decline in taxation revenue.
Commenting, councillor Mike Skrynyk said: “We’re holding the line, for two years now. If this trend continues, we’re going to have to look at how we do business.”
Reducing service levels, in other words. Or raising taxes. Or both.
However, not in 2017.
“Most residents will experience minimal change on their property tax notice,” said Warawa in a follow-up email to The Leader.
Other items in the 2017 budget: walkway replacement in Marten Beach, Canyon Creek arena upgrades, Tollenaar Bridge overlay, a picker truck, six pickup trucks, one grader.