The Municipal District of Bonnyville Council approved a $136,925,122 balanced 2018 budget (excluding non-cash items and depreciation) at its meeting today.
The 2018 budget will be funded through $64.2 million in municipal taxes, $8.4 million in government grants and contributions, $14.6 million from general revenues, such as fees, equipment replacement programs, and reserves. A further $22.8 million will come from transfers from surplus (reserve funds carried over from projects and funds remaining from previous years’ budgets).
To cover the requisitions for school taxes and seniors housing, the M.D. is required to collect an additional $13.7 million through property taxes. Ratepayers will benefit from a slight decrease in provincial education taxes this year. The Lakeland Lodge and Housing requisition increased slightly from $491,738 in 2017 to $492,621 this year. Both the school and lodge requisitions are uncontrollable costs to Council, as they are passed on to the M.D. by other orders of government to collect and remit.
“Council is taking a conservative approach to this year’s budget in recognition of the economic conditions lingering within our region,” says Reeve Greg Sawchuk. “The decrease in our non- residential mill rate, coupled with our unique small business classification, is just one way we can support our struggling industry partners. Holding the line on residential mill rates and examining our service levels is another priority. Council also wants to focus on funding recreation and culture initiatives to improve the quality of life throughout our region.”
Council reduced the Non-residential mill rate to 15.000 from 15.500, bringing the M.D. closer to the 5:1 non-residential/residential mill rate ratio legislated by the Province of Alberta. The Small Business Property Sub-Class (fewer than 50 full-time employees) mill rate is 13.500. Reeve Sawchuk says Council expects to see a 10 percent reduction of taxes from last year for businesses that fall into the new sub-class. The Residential mill rate has been held at 2.7663.
Sawchuk says Council is directing the majority of the budget to key infrastructure projects including roads, sewer underground and trail systems.
The La Corey North Resource Road Overlay is the largest project, at a cost of $13 million. The M.D. has taken out a debenture, to be paid off with the $1.2 million annual funding from the I.D. 349 Agreement. The M.D. is partnering with Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) to reconstruct six miles of Wolf Lake Road at a cost of $6 million. Reconstruction of the Imperial Oil Road is projected to cost $2.8 million. Ardmore East Underground, at an estimated cost of $4.2 million, will complete the upgrades to the hamlet.
Several projects are budgeted to extend the M.D. trail system. The Highway 28 Underpass to connect the Jessie Lake Trail to the Moose Lake Trail is projected to cost $1.3 million, while $400,000 has been set aside to pave existing trail portions.
The M.D. has increased funding for the Inter-Municipal Cooperation Program to $6 million from the previous $5 million, in collaboration with our urban neighbours, based on a per capita, equalized assessment model. The approximate distribution is; Village of Glendon $1.1 million, the City of Cold Lake $1.6 million and the Town of Bonnyville $3.3 million.
Council continues to fund the Seniors Transportation Grant at $60,000, while Community Halls and Societies will have access to $575,000 for capital and operating costs.
One of Council’s priorities is to support the regional community’s quality of life. In 2018, the Glendon Agricultural Society, which provides recreation facilities for the community, will begin receiving an additional $130,000 for an annual operating grant, for a total budget of $150,000. The Bonnyville Municipal Seed Cleaning Co-Op will receive a $500,000 contribution for two renovation projects to increase the volume and efficiency of the plant, and to address safety concerns. The Cold Lake and Bonnyville libraries received a $17 per capita increase based on the Family and Community Social Services (FCSS)/Library Population Split Formula.
Council created new funding reserves for various community programs: $2 million for a Legacy Fund, $1 million for a Ski Lift Fund, $2.5 million for a Fire Hall Fund, $4 million for a Recreation Development Fund, $1 million for a Bridge Repair Fund and $1 million for a Utility Fund.
The M.D. continues to provide funding support for the Bonnyville and Cold Lake museums, Beaver River Regional Waste Management Commission, FCSS in Bonnyville and Cold Lake and the Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority.