A preliminary look at the town’s operating budget has found a few areas that need to be tinkered with.
Bashaw council, at their meeting held April 3, spent over an hour going through each section of the draft 2019 budget, which will increase slightly overall as compared to last year.
A jump of $1,900 in the proposed contribution to community groups is the main difference in council and legislative spending while general administrative expenses were projected to rise over $20,000 due in part to a rise in overall salaries for employees, the increasing cost for office supplies.
Costs for the fire department and other protective services are set to increase as the town pitches in to purchase two new seats of bunker gear, three new SCBA air packs and items such as fire gloves and protective hoods.
That means spending an extra $7,000 than usual to go along with an added $1,200 in training expenses to have some firefighters qualified to drive some of the units.
As for community services spending, that figure has dropped by almost $11,000 as the town has halved the amount (now $10,000) it provides to the local medical clinic operation.
Taking the biggest hit is recreation, as it is estimated the town will spend around $50,000 less in 2019 with about half of that cut coming in arena repairs.
CAO Theresa Fuller explained though it really isn’t a cut as there was a lot more spent fixing the gate for the ice resurfacer and accessibility issues at the arena than had been expected last year.
“There may also be some additions to this coming as the town just went through an Occupational Health and Safety audit that includes some recommendations that will need to be implemented at the arena,” she said.
Meanwhile on the revenue side of the equation, recreation is estimated to generate about $7,000 less in 2019 — or about $90,700 — due to a slide in hours being booked while community services, which includes bylaw and permit fees, is expected to drop minimally, about $700.
An estimate on fire revenue is always as good as a guess, according to Fuller, as no one can be certain of how many calls will be attended. The only certainty is the money provided by Camrose County and the funds Bashaw receives from other counties to cover portions of their municipality. That figure for 2019 is estimated to be close to last year’s number of about $50,000.
Lastly, revenue from grants and other funding (not including property taxes) is expected to remain about the same level as 2018.
It’s anticipated the final budget, including what will be proposed in terms of property taxes, will be introduced to council later this month.
Four letter word
Even with the advent of spring in Alberta, such as it is, Coun. Darren Pearson brought forward the subject of snow removal from sidewalks to the council table.
“I think it’s time to do something as there are some in town that don’t seem to want to clean off their sidewalks,” he said.
Pearson added he’s had complaints during the winter as well has noticed on his own that there were some residences that never cleaned their sidewalk once.
“Does it come to a point where we call someone to do it and send the homeowner a bill? I’m not quite sure what to do, though you could think of it as an extra tax — if you don’t want to do it, then pay,” he said.
However, Coun. Lynn Schultz pointed out that there are many people in Bashaw that aren’t able to get out and shovel their sidewalk and he wasn’t sure if there was anyone in town that provided that sort of service.
Coun. Rosella Peterman did note a new initiative, started very late this last winter, by a group of Bashaw School students may be an answer to that problem. The group began offering free snow removal as part of a project to get the students to be more active community members.
In the end, it was decided to have administration look into potential better enforcement next winter as well as looking into coordinating with the school about possibly working on seeing that those who can’t get out have their sidewalks done.