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March 26th, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 12
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Budget reveals insurance hikes
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
After damaging property and disrupting lives, the June floods are now doing a number on the municipality’s insurance premiums.
CAO Sheldon Steinke says the total insurance premium for the municipality from Jan. 1, 2013 to Jan. 1, 2014 was $282,000. He says this year’s premium has been raised to $313,000, a 12 percent increase.
In a letter to council, the Alberta Municipal Services Corporation (AMSC) wrote that 2013 was a record year for the number and size of claims to their insurance program, many of them arising from the June flood.
“Additionally past claims from causes such as hail and wild fires along with insurance industry changes resulted in increased scrutiny from the insurers,” says the letter.
Steinke says the AMSC insurance plan covers property, inland marine assets, machinery, crime, commercial general liability, environment impairment liability and other liabilities.
The premium increase is just one of the highlights of the 2014 municipal budget, a draft of which was revealed to the public March 22, at council’s operating budget meeting.
The draft budget is allowing for $16.9 million in expenses this year to be paid for by $7 million in revenues. This means $9.9 million in property taxes will be needed for a balanced budget.
The draft says the tax base shrank by 2.1 percent in 2013, which means property taxes are being increased to generate an extra $93,000 for the municipality.

The budget is also making allowances for special initiatives this year, including the Hillcrest Mine Disaster 100th anniversary.
In terms of big municipal building projects, the municipality is working with close to $8 million dollars, some of which is coming from debt and taxes and other amounts coming from capital grants.
Other highlights include a 3 percent wage increase in municipal salaries and wages and a 5 percent increase in employee benefits.
Harold Johnsrude, president of HJC consulting who was hired to help organize the community’s finances, says developing a municipal budget is a major task but management and staff have been performing very well under the circumstances.
“Budget development is normally a drawn out task. Analysis is done and trends are reviewed. This document does not have that kind of background work,” he says.
In its executive summary, the budget talks about the challenges the municipality is facing because of a complete overhaul of senior management. It says some of those positions are still vacant and this has had a big impact on the 2014 budget process.
“The status of senior management could be described as ‘fluid’…Position vacancies or new personnel creates a vacuum in information and knowledge that is often taken for granted until it is no longer available,” it says.
Johnsrude says the document will be analyzed and updated before council’s final approval.
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March 26th ~ Vol. 84 No. 12
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