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Tuesday April 17th, 2012  
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Quote of the Week
"We need a government that will actually think about the long term, use best evidence and plan for the future by protecting water as a primary resource."
- Dr. David Swann  
   
   

 

 
After much discussion, Crowsnest Pass Municipal Council passed first reading of the 2012 Mill Rate Bylaw at a special meeting held last Friday, April 13th, which will make for a 2.5 per cent increase in municipal mill rate if approved.
During one of the latest in a long series of budget meetings over the past several months, Council and Administration met on Thursday, April 12th to discuss possible alternatives for changes to the mill rate, as part of the 2012-2014 triennial budget.
Administration put forth the recommendation that Council adopt a mill rate increase of four per cent in 2012, three per cent in 2013 and 2.5 per cent in 2014, which would allow for a transfer of $143,410 into reserves in 2012, $58,858 in 2013 and $246,135 in 2014.
Chief Administrative Officer Myron Thompson stressed the importance of building up municipal reserves, which currently sit at approximately $1.3 million, in order to move forward on initiatives outlined in Council’s Strategic Plan which was released last year, as well as providing necessary funding to existing municipal programs and services.
Director of Finance and Corporate Services Marion Vanoni noted that the tax base will be significantly affected by the closure of Devon Canada’s Coleman operations, which will result in a tax decrease of roughly $185,000.
Councillors Brian Gallant, Andrew Saje and Emile Saindon each voiced their disapproval of the recommendation.
“We are doing a lot in the way of making this community a better place to live… but I still feel we’re taking on too much this year,” said Councillor Gallant.
“I have concerns that we are overextending ourselves. We need to back up a bit and revisit some of these initiatives that have been going on for years.”
Councillor Saje stated his belief that there are other potential alternatives for stabilizing reserves which have yet to be considered.
“Given our current economic climate, with the latest census showing a declining population and a major employer leaving the community, this isn’t the time to raise the mill rate,” he said.
Councillors Larry Mitchell, Jerry Lonsbury and Siegbert Gail each spoke in favour of the Administrative recommendation, stating they would be prepared to accept it.
 

“Administration has paid a great deal of attention to things we have talked about and done a very good job of providing ties to our strategic plan,” said Councillor Lonsbury.
“Given that they have been successful in doing that and providing an alternative that has varying (increases) over the three-year budget, I’m quite prepared to support their recommendation.”
Councillor Gail recognized that tax increases are always uncomfortable for taxpayers but said he felt municipal infrastructure needs to be worked on and taxes adjusted accordingly.
After a great deal of discussion, Councillor Lonsbury moved to accept the administrative recommendation.
The motion was defeated 4-3, with Councillors Gail, Lonsbury and Mitchell in favour and Councillors Gallant, Saje, Saindon and Mayor Bruce Decoux opposed.
Council then rejected four other recommended mill rate increases before Councillor Saindon proposed a zero per cent increase for 2012, with 2.5 per cent increases in 2013 and 2014.
The meeting was then adjourned until the following morning, in order to provide Administration with time to provide details as to how the recommendation would affect taxes.
The next morning, Vanoni informed Council that a zero increase would result in a deficit of $109,322 in 2012 and a deficit of $191,476 in 2013.
“If we go zero per cent, we’re going to have to adjust expenditures,” said Vanoni.
Councillor Saje then made a motion to approve the increases of zero per cent, 2.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent, which was defeated 6-1.
Council proceeded to reconsider two of the alternatives which had been rejected the previous day, before approving reconsideration of Alternative 3 – increases of 2.5 per cent every year for the next three years.
Councillor Saindon moved first reading of the Mill Rate Bylaw with increases of 2.5 per cent for the next three years.
The motion was carried 5-2, with Councillors Saindon, Gail, Lonsbury, Mitchell and Bruce Decoux in favour and Councillors Gallant and Saje opposed.
The bylaw will be presented for third reading at the regular Council meeting this Tuesday, April 17th at 7 p.m.
See next week’s Pass Herald for story.
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