Thursday , 5 August 2021

Cold Lake council passes interim budget with uncertain CLAWR money

Cold Lake City Council passed an interim operating budget on Monday and a minimal capital budget for 2020 as they wait for the new ID 349 agreement to be settled by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

The City of Cold Lake had to pass a completed budget before the end of 2019 for both operational and capital spending.

But uncertainties surrounding the municipal property tax revenue from ID 349 has prompted the need for an interim budget, the city said in a press release.

“We are still working with the government on the future of ID 349,” Mayor Craig Copeland said in a release.

“This agreement may have substantial impacts on our community’s future for years to come, and so we can’t hastily arrive at a 2020 budget and future financial forecasting until ID 349 is settled.”

Council passed an interim operating budget of $12 million to cover its committed and legislated expenses from January 1, 2020, to March 31, 2020.

A capital budget of just under $3 million was also passed.

“The City of Cold Lake requires a capital spend of approximately $10 million simply to maintain our infrastructure in its current state,” Copeland said.

“In order to make headway in this community, to prepare for growth, and to take on large-scale projects such as the new waste water treatment facility we know we will need, that number needs to be higher. We are holding the line for now and will work on an equitable, permanent solution for ID 349 – a solution that will bring greater certainty to our region and will respect all taxpayers.”

About $2.8 million in grant funding for capital projects remains unallocated. Additional capital projects for 2020 will be brought to council on a priority basis.

The 2020 Operating Budget will be revisited and passed prior to setting the tax rate in May of 2020.

In 2019, budgets included a total of about $43 million in operational spending and a $22.3 million capital budget when passed in December of 2018.

Capital Projects in the 2020 budget are:

• 2020 Annual Capital Street Improvement Project ($1.74 million)
• 8 Street Roadway Extension Phase 2a ($500,000)
• City Hall HVAC and furnace replacement ($135,000)
• AB First Responder Radio Communication System ($228,750)
• IBM Financial Server Replacement ($80,000)
• 69 Avenue (Museum Road) Road Improvements ($300,000)

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.