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April 26th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 17
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Council passes millrate bylaw
Councillor Ward made a motion that no additional managers or supervisors will be hired in 2017 with the exception of positions already filled that become vacant. Motion was passed unanimously.
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
ANNA KROUPINA
Pass Herald Reporter
Council passed the mill rate bylaw at a meeting on April 19, setting the residential tax rate at 9.18% and the non-residential tax rate at 14.85%. The 2017 tax rate is increasing by 1.5% for residential and 2% for non-residential.

Mill rate bylaw

Prior to the mill rate being passed, Councillor Dean Ward made a motion on an issue that has challenged Council during the budget approval process, the organizational chart.

His motion read, “that no additional managers or supervisors will be hired in 2017 with the exception of positions already filled that become vacant. Administration will report back to Council on April 25 as to the savings realized by this change. All savings will be placed into the municipality’s mill rate stabilization reserve.”

The outcome of the motion, Councilor Ward said, would determine whether the mill rate bylaw gets his vote or not.

“I’ve raised my issues with the budget and mill rate previously, and they were about taxes, utilities and increased number of managers,” he says. “Two of those three have been satisfied and if we can satisfy the third today, I have no problem voting for the mill rate, but if we cannot satisfy that third one today, I will not support the mill rate bylaw.

CAO Lorrie O’Brien pointed out that it is policy to transfer any surplus in funds into reserves. She expressed concern at the unexpectedness of the motion, recommending postponing the discussion in order to have an informed vote with a thoughtful response from Administration.
continued below ...
Director of Finance Ola Oladele also articulated concern over the motion, indicating that he would like to revisit the budget to determine whether the change would affect the bottom line of the budget.

“If I know that there is a planned surplus, I am not comfortable [proceeding with the motion at this time].”

Councillor Doreen Glavin offered support for the motion, noting it to be advantageous to allow the new Council to see how they want to proceed with the organizational chart.

Councillor Bill Kovach also expressed support for the motion.

“I’m going to support this motion for two reasons, the first reason being the new general manager that we hired for Community Services. It will give him time to assess the ski hill, the pool and the training that is going to be required for him fulfill his position, and help Administration decide what kind of supervision will be needed down the road,” he said. “Secondly, it will allow a couple of months for the new Council to decide on recommendations brought forward by Administration as to whether we need supervisors, what they will be and where they need positions.”
Councillor Ward’s motion was passed by Council unanimously.
continued below ...
2017 budget

The passing of the mill rate concludes a lengthy and polarized discussion about the operating budget, which was passed on March 28.
“We had days and days of discussion, and it was difficult to come to a consensus, keeping in mind that we’re trying to be progressive and get things done that haven’t been done in a long time while still keeping our taxes as low as we possibly can,” says Mayor Blair Painter.

The municipality has planned for a number of new initiatives this year, with a focus on facility maintenance and repair. The brand new outdoor pool is also opening this summer.

Mayor Painter says passing the budget was a process of finding a balance between increasing taxes minimally as justified, while continuing with a progressive mindset that Council considers vital in attracting tourists, businesses and new residents.

“It’s been years since Council has had initiatives to do any maintenance on our buildings, and we’ve been running equipment that is 30 years old,” he says. “We are very serious about being progressive and we feel it’s very important in keeping up our maintenance, our infrastructure. We are finally getting a rebuild on our Frank Wastewater Treatment Plant. This is almost 20 years overdue.”

Mayor Painter adds that the municipality has been hit with big expenses this year, notably the carbon tax and the 7% increase for the Alberta School Foundation Fund (ASFF). The municipality has also seen a reduction in their MSI funding and a drop in property assessments.

“These are all moneys that we have to capture someplace,” he says. “That was the reason for the lengthy discussion and back and forth, trying to be progressive and get some things done around here, get our new initiatives off the ground and still keep a reasonable tax rate.”
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April 26th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 17
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