At a special council meeting held at the Municipal Office on Monday, April 8th, Chief Administrative Officer Myron Thompson gave an update on the municipality’s economic development.
We are bringing the budget back to Council,” said Thompson. “We have two areas of reduction in our revenues.”
He explained that the first one is derived from the recent provincial announcement to have reductions in grants.
Thompson announced that three grants are being lost in the municipality. The Recreational and Tourism grant was $12,000 for the operations of Pass Powder Keg Ski Hill in Blairmore. The tourism grant for the Bow trail was $ 8,000. The Step Program for summer student employment is the third grant that will be lost. With the loss of these three grants, the municipality has lost a revenue of $307,600.
“The loss does make an impact, and the adjustments we have made are reflecting on that,” said Thompson.
He told council that the municipality has also had a drop in assessment that exceeded the 2 per cent that was estimated. “The assessment is five per cent lower which equates to approximately 31 million dollars of loss assessment.”
Thompson said that the municipality faces about $294,000 in short fall.
“We do have reserves and we have talked about collapsing some of those reserves into a mill rate stabilization reserve,” he said. “The option that administration is recommending is that we transfer $295,000 from that reserve into the budget for that shortfall.”
Another consideration discussed at the meeting was to go to a 7.5 per cent mill rate increase, instead of the 2.5 per cent increase that was previously determined.
“The largest impact is industrial,” Thompson explained. “We have lost $16,500,000, and that it quite a bit more than we anticipated.” He explained that the loss has come mostly from the Devon Plant closure.
He explained that there has also been a drop in assessment in residential and non-residential as well, but mostly with residential, with a loss of about $3,000,000.
“I think that with little bit of hard work on everybody’s part, the $295,000 can be found,” said Councillor Emile Saindon.
“To find that money, we have some initiatives and projects that are not critical to the community that can be postponed,” he said. “I’m prepared to help in anyway, but I am not prepared to vote on an increase.”
Councillor Brian Gallant agreed, saying that cutting programs may be the way to solve the problem. “This is a high pressure situation we are in,” he said. “Things like cutting programs may be a very effective way to do this. Programs that people wouldn’t even know are happening anyways.”
A motion was made by Councillor Jerry Lonsbury for administration to bring back the last budget which includes a 4 per cent increase in costs. The motion was carried, with Mayor Bruce Decoux opposed.