File photo

File photo

2022 interim budget proposed during Dec. 13 town council meeting

Dec. 18 budget deliberations recognize RCMP retroactive pay an unavoidable cost

Sylvan Lake town council considered the 2022 interim budget totalling $7 million during their regular meeting on Dec. 13.

The town’s financial plan consisting of the final 2022 operating and capital budgets is anticipated to be passed by the council on Feb. 14 of next year. The interim budget, supported by the acting CAO, will offer as a guiding document until the adoption of a final budget.

Administration recommended approval of the budget for assistance in case of any delays in the final budget due to unseen circumstances. This interim budget will consist of operating expenses such as wages, contracted services, goods and supplies and utilities.

Council further debated the interim budget during budget deliberations on Dec. 18.

Given the expansion of the town population to over 15,000 residents, the municipality will now be responsible for 70 per cent to 90 per cent of the RCMP retroactive pay, seen as a major chunk of unavoidable cost on the budget during the Dec. 18 budget deliberation, said Coun. Kjeryn Dakin in a Facebook post after the meeting. This would mean a 3.2 percent tax cost, she added. The council is advocating for alternate strategies to bring down the cost.

“This is completely out of our control and we fully respect the hard work our RCMP officers do in their line of work,” said Dakin in the post.

The council searched for ways to minimize costs while improving the quality of services for the town during Dec. 18 budget deliberation.

“We went line by line up and down the budget multiple times to see what was needed to improve the quality of services for our town but keep costs low. I love that we agreed to look at doing an efficiency report to ensure we are working at our maximum in each department in the near future.

“With inflation and with doing a zero percent tax increase for the last two years, it’s great that we landed with a 0.6 per cent tax increase on top of what the RCMP increase will be. That is every department shaving down yet again to see where we could save. When we started and before any strategy was in place this was almost at 10 per cent,” said Dakin in the post.

Once available, information on all capital projects and distribution of tax dollars will be made accessible for public review.