Sylvan Lake Town Council held a gathering away from the confines of Chambers.
On Wednesday, November 30 – SugarBelle Cakery played host to Coffee with Council, where Sylvan Lakers were given the opportunity to discuss the 2017 proposed budget with Mayor Sean McIntyre, members of Council and Town administration. The event is intended to allow residents an opportunity to give their feedback in a more relaxed and convenient setting considering that budget deliberations take place over several days.
“All of our budget deliberation discussions are open to the public, but they also occur over several days and not everyone is available for all of that time,” Mayor McIntyre said. “We like to have a public open house in the evening where residents are able to attend. This usually reflects in the numbers and more people are able to give their feedback that might not have been able to in the more classic sense of in Council Chambers.”
The main topics being discussed that evening were the proposed tax rate increase of 0.2 per cent and the fact that the 2017 Budget was drafted to be lean – reflecting the current economic landscape in Alberta and represented lower than expected growth numbers in Sylvan Lake.
“The 2017 proposed budget has a much smaller rate increase than we had planned,” McIntyre said. “Originally it was 2.96 per cent and we are now looking at 0.2 per cent. That is a recognition of Alberta’s economic climate right now.”
The lowering of the tax increase, according to McIntyre, is intended to ease the “burden on people who may have challenging employment situations right now.”
“We want to do our very best to provide the services people expect from our municipality,” he added.
Drafting the 2017 budget to be lean while still providing essential municipal services was a challenge that Town administration and Council faced this year.
“The 2017 budget was a tough one to draft,” McIntyre said. “Our staff have done a mountain of work in order to make strategic cuts to the budget. This means our services are maintained while also recognizing opportunity for savings.”
Opportunities for savings included cutting back of supplies, travel and training, moving projects to different years and cancelling some projects altogether.
“We are still moving forward with things we feel matter most to our community and things that we know we have a responsibility to do,” McIntyre said. “We have to get creative and bring forward the services that people expect – service we know we will see a benefit from.”
McIntyre added that he is grateful for “the hard work that has been done by administration and the members of Council to bring our budget numbers down.”
The Mayor was pleased to see everyone who came out and gave their feedback to the 2017 budget and encourages residents to continue to remain active doing so.
“We are happy to see all the people that have came out to have those discussions with us,” he said.