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Saturday , 25 September 2021

Vermilion’s 2021 budget released with 1% tax increase

The Town said in a press release Wednesday that four staff members will be laid off as part of balancing the budget.

Yesterday the Director of Finance and Administration for the Town of Vermilion, Brian Leibel, presented the capital and operating budgets for next year.

Council carried a motion to accept the 2021 operating revenues of $14,492,726, expenses of $14,466,498 (not including amortization), and capital expenditures of $2,840,000.

“Budgeting for sustainability is really our mindset when coming up with this,” said Leibel.

“We’re trying to budget as thinly as possible because we want to make sure the impact on the community is as little as possible.”

To find savings, they have cut a $400,000 college trunk line from the budget, and will be holding several projects over to future years including a $3.78 million Brennan subdivision project, and old workshop renovations of $150,000.

With this budget the Town has also decreased contracted services costs, and decreased staffing by removing four full-time spots (primarily from the medical clinic).

“These staff will still be at the clinic, just under a different arrangement. The level of service will be maintained,” said Leibel.

According to Midtown Medical Clinic, the four doctors have entered into a partnership arrangement to look after the administration of the business.

Residents will see a 1 per cent increase in property tax, a 5.57 per cent increase for sewer, 1.05 per cent increase in water, and 0 per cent increase for garbage.

“As our public is aware we are just in the final stages of completing our $20 million wastewater treatment plant with the current facility nearing a 60 year lifespan,” said CAO George Rogers.

“To level the costs out over the life of this asset very prudent because of the need to meet new standards and be kinder to the river valley. The quality of the effluent is such that we are looking at some potential uses besides sending it down stream with agriculture and oilfield possibilities. This community is very fortunate we were able to build this state of the art facility but the adjustment you are seeing is a result of that.”

The town’s projected debt for 2021 is $15,386,000.

“Part of our capital budget does include taking on debt,” said Leibel.

“My recommendation is that we look any way we can for any reductions in debt.”

Of the $2.8 million capital budget, $816,000 will be spent on broadband (from a $2.4 million provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative grant over the next three years). Other projects include $718,000 for water infrastructure, $500,000 for sewer a sewer trunk line ($493,000 covered by Municipal Stimulus Program funding and $7,000 from reserves), and $461,000 for street improvements.
The projected revenue from the 1 per cent property tax increase is approximately $55,000. Leibel said those funds will be spread across major highlights including the new RCMP cost sharing of $44,000 and $13,000 decrease of Grants In Lieu For Taxes (which together was $57,000 cut from provincial funding).

“If the provincial government was not cutting our funding, we would not have a property tax increase,” said Leibel.

“I’d like to thank everyone for contributing to budget process. Directors, staff and council – I really appreciate the thoughts and wisdom brought forward.”

Councillor, Robert Pulyk said, “I’d like to thank administration for putting together a reasonable budget, allowing us to pay for the RCMP and looking internally to find efficiencies and reduce costs. This is a new reality we are being faced with and I don’t see it changing next year.”

The final budget won’t be approved until May, but this will give administration the authority to begin operating in the new year.

About Angela Mouly

Angela comes to Lakeland Connect after leaving traditional newspaper where she spent the past four years reporting on community events. Her repertoire includes writing about history, politics, agriculture, sports, entertainment and art. She was the third place recipient of an AWNA General Excellence Award for “Best Front Page” during their 2016 Better Newspaper Competition. Angela has lived in rural Alberta all her life and in Vermilion for the past 15 years. She looks forward to continuing to serve and inform the Lakeland community by joining in people's many adventures and sharing their stories.