Budget and taxes front and centre at May 27st Castor council meeting

Residents and commercial businesses can each expect a tax increase of 2 per cent for 2019

By Kevin J. Sabo

For the Advance

Budgets and taxes topped the agenda at the May 27th meeting of council.

With the change in provincial government pushing the provincial budget to this fall and commitments on which streams of revenue will remain open to municipalities in question, Town administration has had to make some budget cuts for 2019 with more possible in 2020.

Capital and operation budgets were slashed in order to produce a balanced budget as required under the Municipal Government Act.

“We had to make up $27,000,” said CAO Christopher Robblee.

“The fire hall project is still proceeding because it’s in progress. All other capital projects have been cut.”

Capital projects facing the axe have been reserved spending for the pool, and working on water infrastructure, which was recently announced to be running at a 35 per cent loss, to name a couple.

A significant part of the budget uncertainty comes down to the provincial M.S.I. (Municipal Sustainability Initiative), a program created by the former Conservative government to push money into the municipalities allowing them to proceed with otherwise cost-prohibitive capital infrastructure projects, keeping communities sustainable.

With the United Conservative government not expected to table a budget until sometime this fall and no firm commitments from Edmonton on whether M.S.I. would be part of the budget, Robblee proceeded on the assumption that it wouldn’t be.

“We can’t count on the MSI,” said Robblee. “If we do get it we can adjust expenditures later.”

With the budget finalized, the 2019 Tax Bylaw was read into law during the May 27th meeting. Residents and commercial businesses can each expect a tax increase of 2 per cent for 2019, as well as a 1 per cent increase to both school requisitions that residents are required to pay.

“If we didn’t make cuts, we were looking at a 12 per cent tax increase,” said Robblee, before warning that more cuts may be coming for 2020

Currently, of every dollar spent by the Town, 15 per cent is spent on recreation and facilities, nearly 19 per cent is spent public works and 32 per cent is spent on utilities.

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