Town council will have difficult discussions about Bonnyville’s financial outlook for next year.
In preparation for the 2021 budget, council will have to find areas to cut in order to balance the books.
Mayor Gene Sobolewski said on The Morning After that council will hash out some possibilities before the town’s budget open house in late November where residents can see a second draft.
“In our operating budget, we have a major overage. In other words, we’ve got to do some cutting, or we have to take a look at some serious realities,” said Sobolewski.
“In the discussions, some of the council talked about the addition of a tax increase, and things like that, and the impact on residential. It was pointed out, though, that it’s not so much the impact on residential. It’s the commercial, because the commercial and your industrial, they do tend to pay different rates.”
That overage is projected at $1.7 million currently and uncertainties remain with overage costs relating to the regional waterline.
The Town is in discussions with the provincial government to see if there will be cost-sharing on the $8 million or so in overage costs.
When it comes to capital projects, council is going to be selective. However, some of these new builds have been on the books for a long time, begging the question of when they can move forward.
There is also concern the provincial government could offload most costs onto municipalities in their next budget as well.
“We’ve got about $23 million worth of projects that we’ve deferred, that we now have to start prioritizing. Things are starting to get to critical mass, your trails, things of that nature, some of the roads and water,” said Sobolewski.
“It’s very likely that there’s going to be a serious request from the province to offload a lot of costs on to the municipalities. Whether it’s a direct offloading visa v that you have to look after services now or we’re not going to pay for certain services, say for example,
“Maybe you won’t get any funding at all, or a reduction in grants, say the MSI [Municipal Sustainability Initiative] or something like that. We fully expect that’s going to come down to the pike, and we need to try and figure out what are what survival mode looks like.”
Town council will take resident feedback after the budget open house and solidify a final draft to pass before the end of 2020.