Big Valley village council passed its 2023 Operating Budget of $713,503, including a one per cent increase to property taxes during the regular Thursday, February 9 council meeting.
Council also approved a two per cent increase to its flat rate charge for water, equal to 50 cents per month. This increase will help to pay for some costs associated with water loss through the water utility, without impacting or being subsidized by taxes. Along with the Operating Budget, council also considered its Capital Budget.
“No (Capital) projects will be done this year, other than those that were approved in 2022 which weren’t done,” says Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Elaine Macdonald.
During the meeting it was noted the total Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding of $192,000 has been allocated to projects, which are in various stages of completion, and the only funding available for 2023 is a $50,000 allocation from the Federal Gas Tax Fund (FGTF).
CAO Macdonald tells the Mail this funding will be carried forward into the 2024 budget with hopes of being able to complete some larger projects next year.
CAO Macdonald also presented council with a proposal from the County of Stettler regarding cost sharing to have recycling bins remain at the village’s waste transfer site. The county, to date, has been paying the full costs for the bins and collection, along with bins at the Donalda and Town of Stettler sites.
This was having an impact on the county’s budget and ratepayers, and it was originally recommended to remove the bins; however, following a meeting with the two respective municipalities administration and council representatives in late January, it was decided the county was open to a cost sharing venture.
Big Valley will be responsible for approximately 40 per cent of the cost, based on a population formula. Costs in 2022 totalled some $9,200 but it was requested the village pay $4,000 in 2023 due to potential cost fluctuations from surcharges or additional material collection.
This fee was included in the proposed Operating Budget; CAO Macdonald notes residents will see a recycling charge of $1.67 added to each utility bill to alleviate impacts on the tax rate.
There were also added pressures to rising policing costs, which increased from $8,994 in 2022 to $16,196.97 in 2023, along with a $7,402 funding component attributed to the Stettler Regional Emergency Management Partnership Agreement.
Council previously approved an interim Operating Budget in December 2022 which would have allowed up to a three per cent property tax increase. CAO Macdonald noted during the meeting this could be reduced to one per cent due to some amendments in the budget.
It was also recommended to increase the water flat rate by two per cent, equivalent to 50 cents per month on each utility bill. CAO Macdonald notes there will also be an increase to the consumption rate, which was downloaded onto the village and had to be passed down to residents, from the Shirley McLellan Regional Water Service.