Knee­hill County de­liv­ers bud­get

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Sub­mit­ted The Drumheller Mail

Knee­hill County has de­liv­ered a bal­anced bud­get, de­spite a tough eco­nomic cli­mate that has cut into its rev­enues.

Knee­hill County Coun­cil an­nounced the com­ple­tion of the 2017 Op­er­at­ing and Cap­i­tal Bud­gets dur­ing de­lib­er­a­tions at a Spe­cial Coun­cil Meet­ing held on Novem­ber 9, 2016.

The 2017 bud­get process was chal­leng­ing as there has been a de­crease in as­sess­ments, with non-res­i­den­tial as­sess­ments be­ing hit the hard­est par­tic­u­larly on the lin­ear side. The 2017 bud­get en­cap­su­lates a 14.5 per cent de­crease in oil/ gas well tax as­sess­ments and a 9.5 per­cent de­crease in pipe­line as­sess­ments. As the lin­ear por­tion of tax rev­enues con­tinue to de­crease, and is pro­jected to de­crease into the 2018 bud­get cy­cle by ap­prox­i­mately the same amount, it fore­sees fi­nan­cial and bud­get chal­lenges for the fu­ture.

The 2017 bud­get was com­pleted with the goal to pro­vide ratepay­ers with the same ser­vice stan­dard on all core ser­vices that res­i­dents have in­di­cated as pri­or­i­ties. Road con­struc­tion, road main­te­nance, solid waste ser­vices, and wa­ter have re­mained vir­tu­ally un­touched in the 2017 bud­get. Through stream­lin­ing its or­ga­ni­za­tion and re­mov­ing items deemed to be cur­rently un­nec­es­sary, coun­cil was able to pro­vide a bal­anced bud­get that re­quires no bor­row­ing and min­i­mal us­age of the County’s re­serve ac­counts.

In gen­eral terms, the net rev­enues are re­duced in 2017 by ap­prox­i­mately $2.1 mil­lion. The county has been able to re­duce the year over year costs associated with op­er­at­ing the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. The 2017 bud­get takes into con­sid­er­a­tion large ex­penses such as the pro­jected un­col­lectable tax losses of $800,000 and the im­pact of the pro­vin­cial car­bon levy.

The car­bon levy has a di­rect im­pact on the op­er­at­ing bud­get of ap­prox­i­mately $120,000 with an ad­di­tional in­crease ex­pected in the cost of goods and ser­vices in both the op­er­at­ing and cap­i­tal sides of the bud­get, as ven­dors will be pass­ing on their in­creased costs to the County.

On the cap­i­tal side of the bud­get, the County has bud­geted $2.9 mil­lion for its an­nual gravel pur­chase, $1.2 mil­lion for 68 miles of shoul­der pull, and another $4 mil­lion (car­ried over from 2016) for its on­go­ing road re­build pro­gram as ap­proved in the Knee­hill County Road Master Plan. It has al­lo­cated the 2017 and re­main­ing 2016 Mu­nic­i­pal Sus­tain­abil­ity Ini­tia­tive fund­ing to the pur­chase of gravel and to the con­tract shoul­der pull pro­gram. Carry over funds from the 2016 cap­i­tal bud­get are be­ing used to fund the 2017 road re­build projects.

The 2017 Op­er­a­tional bud­get con­tin­ues to pri­or­i­tize core ser­vices such as road main­te­nance, snow re­moval, wa­ter distri­bu­tion, solid waste, parks, and agri­cul­tural ser­vices.

It was Coun­cil’s goal to com­plete the 2017 bud­get with ra­tio­nal­ized ser­vice delivery that did not sac­ri­fice the qual­ity of those same ser­vices. As a re­sult, there is an on­go­ing com­mit­ment to its roads pro­gram through­out both the cap­i­tal and op­er­at­ing bud­get. Other ser­vices res­i­dents have come to ex­pect are in­cluded in the 2017 fi­nan­cial plan such as dust con­trol, spon­sor­ships, and other grant fund­ing pro­grams that sup­port the com­mu­nity. Through the Re­gional Ur­ban Sus­tain­abil­ity Grant,

money has been set aside to also sup­port small towns and vil­lages, rec­og­niz­ing that each com­mu­nity is vi­brant, unique and have its own iden­tity.

Coun­cil is also look­ing to­wards 2018 and the bud­getary chal­lenges that Knee­hill County will face in fu­ture years. It is an­tic­i­pat­ing fur­ther losses in in­dus­trial tax­a­tion and cur­rent fore­casts show that in 2018 it can ex­pect an ap­prox­i­mate $2 mil­lion dol­lar loss of net County rev­enues with a cor­re­spond­ing drop in res­i­den­tial as­sess­ments. Coun­cil will be con­sid­er­ing all pos­si­ble op­tions to min­i­mize the im­pact of the pro­jected fu­ture loss of rev­enues.

Our pre­vi­ous de­ci­sions have left us in a strong fi­nan­cial po­si­tion with sig­nif­i­cant cash re­serves and no debt. Coun­cil pledges to con­tinue to work in a re­spon­si­ble man­ner for res­i­dents.

The 2017 Op­er­at­ing and Cap­i­tal Bud­gets are avail­able on the Knee­hill County web­site.

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