McLennan budget balanced and passed

Stephanie VanYork

According to Janet Bayers, municipal administrator for the Town of McLennan, the annual budget was balanced and passed at their budget meeting held June 28.
“The budget was passed, we set out mill rates,” says Bayers.
The McLennan town council, facing a $65,000 debt and a relatively small tax base managed to balance the budget including a $15,000 reserve, with a comparatively small tax increase and some administration suggestions.
Taxes are raised by 9 per cent, but according to Bayers, only 3 per cent of that is municipal tax, the other six per cent is for the new Smoky River Ambulance Service.
“We had to really cut costs,” says Bayers. “We’re down to the bone on a lot of things.”
The assessment that the town can tax totals about $15 million, however the amount of tax-exempt property, including schools, the hospital and churches, is about $21 million.
“We have more exempt than we do taxable,” says Bayers. “That is why our mill rates are so high and we have been trying to negotiate with Alberta Municipal Affairs regarding this.”
Administrative suggestions that were passed are expected to bring in about $36,000 including a 10 per cent increase in utilities based on last year” consumption rates.
The 10 per cent increase is on all utilities including water, sewer, garbage, and recycling.
“We’re increasing the cost but we’re also increasing their basic consumption of water,” says Diane Deslauriers, administrative assistant for the Town of McLennan.
According to Deslauriers, the basic consumption will be increased from 15 cubic metres to 17 cubic metres which is a difference of 440 gallons of water.
“You can’t always take without giving anything back,” says Deslauriers. “We’re hoping this would be well received.”
Another of those suggestions made by administration and accepted by council was to reduce the number of council members that will attend the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association Convention. Instead of 7 members attending they will rotate three councilors per year. This, according to Bayers, will save about $8000.
Another suggestion that was passed by council will be the reduction in the cost of the town’s Christmas party, which will save $3000.
There has also been an increase in grass-cutting fees, storage fees, and cemetery plots have gone from $100 to $200.
“We’ve basically raised all of our fees,” says Bayer who adds that because they are demand services, they don’t really know how much money they will be able to generate from the increases.

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