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Fort Macleod town council approves provisional operating budget

Fort Macleod council last week approved a provisional operating budget for 2017 that reflects one of its priorities — no additonal municipal tax revenue.
The version of the budget adopted by council at its Dec. 12 meeting also reflects $300,000 in cuts from the first draft presented by administration last month.
“It is not the final operating budget,” chief financial officer Kris Holbeck stressed.
Although the budget won’t be finalized until the spring, the provisional version is a strong reflection of revenue and expenses for the coming year.
In past years council simply adopted the present year’s budget as a guide for spending in the new year, but new chief administrative officer Sue Keenan started budget discussions earlier.
“We’ll have a lot better idea of where we’re at when it comes time to do the real budget,” Holbeck said.
Holbeck told council administration reviewed the earlier draft with department heads and reduced the estimated deficit of $300,000 to just $40,000.
That process resulted in cutting one position in administration and another in recreation.
The economic development co-ordinator’s job has been folded into the administrative function.
Holbeck told council the deficit could be covered by taking $40,000 from the revenue stabilization fund.
In 2016 the Town of Fort Macleod collected $2,233,517 in residential taxes. Council budgeted to collect $2.234-million in 2017.
The town also collected $618,169 in commercial taxes in 2016. The new budget calls for the same amount in 2017.
Industrial tax revenue is budgeted to remain at $486,808.
Holbeck stressed that doesn’t mean people won’t pay more taxes. That will depend on the assessment of their property, as well as requisitions from outside agencies over which council has no control.
Council has reduced its own budget by $30,000, to $144,500 from $174,000. That includes a reduction in honorariums paid to council to $65,640 from $80,640.
Spending in adminstration is also budgeted to decline to $1,379,135 from $1,461,302.
Firefighting expenses are budgeted at $148,050, compared to $147,450 in 2016.
Spending on disaster services is budgeted at $4,250, down from $5,850 in 2016.
By-law expenses are budgeted to increase to $218,160 from $211,700 in 2016.
Spending on roads and streets is set at $746,250, compared to $846,750 in 2016.
The airport budget is $42,950, up from $30,300 in 2016. That includes $30,000 for runway maintenance.
Expenses in the water department are budgeted at $609,480, which compares to $610,900 in 2016.
Council budgeted $567,775 for sewer operations, up from $498,000 in 2016.
Waste removal is budgeted to cost $355,830, down from $364,840 in 2016.
The Family and Community Support Services department has a budget of $194,028, which is up from $166,691 in 2016.
Cemetery expenses will be $53,500 in 2017, up from $47,400.
The town’s planning department has a $194,000 budget, which is up from $171,000 in 2016.
Council budgeted $85,000 for land and subdivision spending, down from $105,000 in 2016.
The cost of operating the outdoor swimming pool is budgeted at $204,000, down from $212,850 in 2016.
The curling rink budget is $35,585, which includes $21,000 for eavestrough repairs. The 2016 budget was $21,700.
Arena expenses are budgeted at $379,250, up from $363,150 in 2016. The arena operating deficit is pegged at $318,335.
Parks and recreation spending is budgeted at $284,990, down from $600,544 in 2016.
Community hall expenses are budgeted at $28,325 compared to $35,700 in 2016.
Library expenses are $156,815, compared to $150,445 in 2016.
The electric department budget is $1,796,925, compared to $1,714,100 in 2016.

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