Drumheller Town Council put pencil to paper to hammer out the 2019 Operating Budget.
Council held a budget meeting on Monday, March 4, Director of Corporate Services, Barb Miller, presented a draft of the 2019 operating budget that showed a requisition of $8,894.691, an increase over 2018’s budget requisition of $8,718,766, up about $175,925. To hold the line with zero per cent increase in taxes requisition would result in an approximately $16,000 deficit. A 2 per cent increase in the requisition would result in approximately $160,000 surplus for new spending.
Miller said 2019 is an atypical year for budgeting with many factors creating uncertainty. This includes a potential increase in expenses for salaries. Already one of the largest expenses, making up approximately 32 per cent of the budget, contracts with the town of Drumheller inside and outside workers expired on December 31, 2018.
Another atypical factor is the town’s commitment of $5,000,000 towards flood mitigation projects if the town is successful in its bid for grants.
Another factor casting uncertainty is pending provincial and federal elections. New governments bring uncertainty in priorities and grant funding.
Early in the budget process, council directed the administration to work towards a 5 per cent budget reduction, which totals about $436,000. Through finding efficiencies, administration was able to realize a savings of $376,900, without reducing services.
One area council show support financially was for economic development which saw an increase of $52,320 over 2018. This is to support the town’s decision to hire an economic development officer.
The town also realized saving in the police budget. This was a savings of $163,815 compared to the 2018 budget. Last year the town saw an increase in training and equipment for the RCMP, however, that budget line did not carry over to 2019.
Council considered approximately $458.000 on new spending to add to the draft budget. A number of lager projects such as a corporate review were deferred as well as some economic development projects. More projects may be considered as the budget process continues.
Town council is holding an Open House on Wednesday, March 6 at the Badlands Community Facility from 5- 7 p.m.