Bud­get to be pre­sented Feb. 27 as work­shops end

Fort McMurray Today - - WEATHER - OLIVIA CON­DON ocon­don@post­media.com

Mu­nic­i­pal bud­get work­shop wrapped up Fri­day af­ter­noon af­ter coun­cil cut an ad­di­tional $525,000 from the pro­posed bud­get.

Ad­min­is­tra­tion pre­sented a pro­posed over­all 2018 bud­get of $775 mil­lion; $252 mil­lion from the Cap­i­tal Bud­get (CB) and $433.8 mil­lion from the Op­er­at­ing Bud­get (OB).

The pro­posed 2018 CB and OB rep­re­sent de­creases of $140 mil­lion and $29 mil­lion re­spec­tively from their 2017 coun­ter­parts.

On Thurs­day, 17 mu­nic­i­pal de­part­ments pre­sented both their pro­posed 2018 CB, cov­er­ing spe­cific in­fra­struc­ture projects and OB, which cover op­er­a­tional pro­cesses.

The pro­posed CB out­lines 113 in­fra­struc­ture projects, in var­i­ous stages of com­ple­tion, for con­sid­er­a­tion across the re­gion.

Of the 11 de­part­ments that pre­sented their CBS, Pub­lic Works, Re­gional Emer­gency Ser­vices and Engi­neer­ing had the most projects at 35, 29 and 24 re­spec­tively.

Con­struc­tion on cap­i­tal projects takes up the largest chunk of the CB at $220 mil­lion or 87 per cent. Pur­chase came next at $21 mil­lion (eight per cent), fol­lowed by pre-de­sign and de­sign at $9 mil­lion (four per cent) with cap­i­tal grants last at $2 mil­lion (one per cent).

All 17 de­part­ments pre­sented their pro­posed OBS with the big­gest asks com­ing from Pub­lic Works and Tran­sit Ser­vices at $110.6 mil­lion fol­lowed by RCMP and RCMP Sup­port at $33.7 mil­lion.

Salaries and ben­e­fits dom­i­nated the OB with 53 per cent of the pro­posed fund­ing, $228.5 mil­lion, fol­lowed by con­tracted and gen­eral ser­vices at $78.3 mil­lion and ma­te­ri­als, goods and sup­plies at $37.3 mil­lion.

Pro­jected op­er­at­ing rev­enue in 2018 for the RMWB saw a $28.9 mil­lion de­crease from 2017 num­bers, with the big­gest change com­ing from avail­able mu­nic­i­pal tax col­lec­tion at a $42.6 mil­lion loss.

Coun­cil­lor Jeff Ped­dle ques­tioned CFO Elsie Hut­ton on if this loss had any­thing to do with peo­ple leav­ing the com­mu­nity.

“This has noth­ing to do with the as­sess­ment base,” Hut­ton said. “We go by ‘what do we need to op­er­ate’ with tax­a­tion be­ing that last part so it’s purely rev­enue we re­quire for op­er­a­tions and cap­i­tal.”

She added that fur­ther dis­cus­sions on tax­a­tion will come in the spring when coun­cil and ad­min­is­tra­tion re­view the Tax Rate By­law which will look at how many homes there are in the re­gion, in­dus­trial growth and other fac­tors.

Fri­day saw coun­cil de­lib­er­ate 22 mo­tions they had made through­out the work­shops, even­tu­ally low­er­ing the fi­nal pro­posed budgets to­gether by an ad­di­tional $525,000.

The mo­tions re­sulted in changes in scope to cur­rent projects and op­er­a­tions, re­views of pro­posed projects as well as ad­just­ments made to fund­ing re­quests from the com­mu­nity in­vest­ment pro­gram.

A mo­tion by Mayor Don Scott to add $150,000 to the cap­i­tal bud­get for the Ryan/ Hodg­son Me­mo­rial Park was unan­i­mously ap­proved, fol­low­ing an early Thurs­day morn­ing pre­sen­ta­tion by Chelsi Ryan.

Cousins Aaron Hodg­son, 19 and Emily Ryan, 15, were killed in a crash on High­way 881 on May 4, 2016 while driv­ing south on the sec­ond day of the wild­fire evac­u­a­tion.

Emily’s sis­ter Chelsi spoke dur­ing the emo­tional pre­sen­ta­tion, ask­ing for coun­cil to sup­port the re­quest made by Heroes of Wood Buf­falo for the con­struc­tion of a pub­lic me­mo­rial park on the edge of Bea­con Hill.

“I’ve never felt closer to Emily than I do when I’m in that spot,” Ryan said. “There’s no way she’s not there.”

The park would in­clude a nat­u­ral play­ground, benches, trail light­ing and a me­mo­rial statue made by New­found­land Bronze Foundry artist Mor­gan Mac­don­ald.

Pre­sen­ters ad­vo­cated for ad­di­tional pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on the park’s el­e­ments and will re­port back to coun­cil later in the year with de­sign and any fur­ther cap­i­tal re­quire­ments.

The fi­nal bud­get, to be re­viewed and voted on, is sched­uled to be pre­sented to coun­cil on Fe­bru­ary 27, where the pub­lic will have an­other op­por­tu­nity to speak to the bud­get through del­e­ga­tions.

VIN­CENT MCDERMOTT/FORT MCMURRAY TO­DAY/POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

The mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil for the Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Wood Buf­falo lis­ten to a pre­sen­ta­tion dur­ing a meet­ing in Fort Mcmurray, Alta. on Tues­day Novem­ber 28, 2017.

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