The result of not being able to track water use at town facilities is the primary reason behind Bashaw’s financial shortfall in 2018.
CAO Theresa Fuller told council during its meeting Feb. 21 that unmetered water use — the majority coming from the arena, public works, parks and the fire department — amounting to slightly more than $68,100 was the big driver for the town’s approximate $70,000 deficit last year.
Fuller presented council with the year-end budget variance report which showed Bashaw’s expenses outstripped its revenue by nearly $176,500. However, about $106,000 of that will be covered by transfers from reserves when audited financial statements are done later this year. As well, that deficit number may change depending on the audit findings.
“As for expenses, everything worked out according to the budget and water usage was right in line with what we had estimated. The difference is the unmetered sites and now that most have meters we will be able to track and generate the data we need,” said Fuller.
On the revenue side of the ledger, Bashaw saw an additional $50,000 in federal gas tax money that it wasn’t expecting — with Fuller noting a previous year’s payment was handed out after it applied for the 2018 grant.
Meanwhile, bulk water sales increased over $7,000 more than the $3,000 budgeted; the annual grants from the counties of Lacombe and Camrose saw an additional $2,500 come into town coffers; and the town’s flusher truck usage was up meaning $9,000 more revenue was generated. However, that flush truck revenue will be pro-rated — since Bashaw is just the operator and administrator of the unit, since each municipal partner in the usage agreement receives a designated amount based upon the usage of the truck.
Over on the expenses, new computer equipment and map hangers put administration office expenses $3,300 higher; an unanticipated new furnace and hot water heater for the fire hall meant a $3,100 increase in repair and maintenance; racking work at the public works shop jumped salary and supplies expenses there by nearly $5,000; while repairs and hose replacements for several public works vehicles forced the roads, streets and lighting department up by about $5,000.
That all said though, the fire and public works departments overall were either under or very close to what had been budgeted.
The only other two departments that came in over budget were recreation and the community centre.
Construction on the Zamboni gate, combined with having to redo the emergency exit and new outside stairs at that end of the arena, came in $17,000 over the $53,000 budget.
And at the community centre, continued work on the computer-controlled heating and air conditioning system — plus the $7,000 contribution for new chairs — saw it go over budget by nearly $15,000.
The Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework (ICF) agreement with Camrose County became official after council passed second and third readings of the bylaw that implements the deal that the provincial government mandated all municipalities have in place with those that share borders. The agreement essentially formalizes most of what the town and county have been doing for many years.
Council also approved contributions to a pair of local organizations — the town’s annual $5,000 grant to the Bashaw Bus Society and $2,000 to Bashaw Minor Baseball to assist its efforts in getting a batting cage constructed. A motion also passed to carry forward the Bashaw Beautification Committee’s unspent 2018 funds of about $10,000 into 2019.
The town also extended a ‘thank you’ to the Bashaw Area Recreation Board for approving a $4,000 contribution toward purchasing a new ice resurfacing machine for the arena. Camrose County had previously granted $50,000 to the town for the estimated $125,000 machine.
Bashaw is still waiting to hear on whether or not the counties of Ponoka, Stettler and Lacombe will assist financially.