December 20th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 51
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Municipality of Crowsenst Pass Council passes 2018 budget
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
ANNA KROUPINA
Pass Herald Reporter
At a meeting on December 12, Council passed the 2018 Municipal Operating and Capital Budget.
The tax increase will come in at 2.5 per cent for residential and 3.5 per cent for non-residential. The tax rates will not be finalized until the municipality receives the final assessment numbers early in the new year. At this time, the budget was prepared using the 2017 tax assessment as a base for determining the potential tax rates in 2018.

The overall utility rate increase is 2.5 per cent, which translates to a $4.32 increase to the utility bill bi-monthly, or $2.16 monthly.

The proposed budget includes a 3% transfer to reserves with an additional 2% from utilities, or a net transfer of $458,832. Over the last few years, Council has been gradually building up reserves, which is used for funding one-time expenses and for maintaining aging infrastructure. By the end of 2018, the projected reserve balance is $2,927,268.

Council approved new initiatives for 2018 totaling $194,000. Some notable new initiatives and budget discussions include:

0.6 FTE for Protective Services and OT hours
Council approved hiring a 0.6 FTE Administrative Assistant for Protective Services on the condition that it is a term position. The municipality’s Peace Officer resigned last month, so the wages allocated for his salary will go towards the wage of the Administrative Assistant, thereby not requiring an increase in the Salaries, Wages and Benefits portion of the budget.
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Councillor Lisa Sygutek expressed issue with permanently hiring another clerical worker and expressed concern that the public works generated a total of 3,232 hours of overtime in 2017. She stated that either an additional person is hired for the public works department, or that Administration provide justification of the overtime hours.

Councillor Dean Ward made a motion that the 0.6 position be temporary and should Administration feel there is a need for the position to continue in 2019, a report will need to be brought back to Council for consideration.

Councillor Sygutek called for a recorded vote, which resulted in Councillors Gord Lundy, Dave Filipuzzi and Mayor Blair Painter voting against the motion.

Summer programming at the Pass Powderkeg
Council approved summer programming at the ski hill for $59,249. Four different products are to be offered at the Pass Powderkeg: weddings, a mountain biking program, interpretive guiding and lodge rentals for events.

Road maintenance
Administration proposed increases for asphalt patching, concrete and dust suppression, but Council cut the budget for these operations in half. At this time, $10,000 is allocated for asphalt patching, $7,500 for concrete repairs and $10,000 for dust suppression. Administration was also proposing increased hours for summer staff in the transportation department, on which Council voted to decrease the salary wages by $13,000, in essence cutting back on manpower during summer operations. Several Councillors expressed disappointment at the fact that public works projects are experiencing cuts while the Library Board received a 60 per cent increase in their budget this year.

“I realize the library needs additional funding, but we’re taking it away from the residents of the Pass and this is something that we really have to look close at next year. The library is going to have to tighten their purse strings because we’ve cut a lot of these groups down drastically and I just don’t think the taxpayer should suffer,” said Councillor Marlene Anctil.
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Coleman Revitalization
A sum of $1.5 million was budgeted for a downtown Coleman revitalization project from along 77 Street from 17 Avenue to 19 Avenue. An open house to inform interested stakeholders about the project is scheduled for Tuesday, December 19 at the Coleman Senior’s Centre from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Water meters
Council voted to defer the $2.3 million installation of water meters project to the 2019 capital budget. Public education and open houses will commence in 2018. Administration was directed to bring back a formalized timeline for the process before the end of March 2018. The project is estimated to cost $2.3 million.

RIDE Crowsnest
Council has voted to make changes to the municipal bus service RIDE Crowsnest in 2018. Beginning March 1, service will be reduced to two days a week that are determined by the Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) board.

Albert Stella Memorial Arena (ASMA)
Council voted to continue running ASMA in the new year, but will make a decision whether to renovate or demolish the facility in 2018. A sum of $93,878 is included in the 2018 operating budget for operating the facility for another year.

Mountain biking upgrades
Council approved $12,000 to be allocated to the United Riders of Crowsnest Pass (UROC) to upgrade the skills parks in Blairmore.
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December 20th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 51
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