Town of Castor’s administration presented the proposed 2023 interim budget during the Nov. 14 council meeting.
In the budget presented to council by chief administrative officer (CAO) Christopher Robblee, the forecast for 2023 sees a subtle increase in overall revenues which allows the municipality to hold income tax at current rates for at least one more year.
Robblee did note in his presentation that each of the departments in the town were instructed to cut back where possible; however, after making cuts over the last few years this is the last year they would be able to do so.
Council had concerns with some of the cuts presented.
“We can’t have this, there’s no wiggle room,” said deputy Mayor Trudy Kilner.
“There’s no cushion at all.”
Mayor Richard Elhard agreed with his deputy mayor.
“I see what you’re doing here, but I don’t agree with it.”
Assistant CAO Donna Rowland, who was also present in the meeting, did comment that the budget presented was just the interim budget and likely to change in the spring once the town knows what the assessment numbers are going to be.
Robblee agreed, noting that leaving the numbers as they are would give administration the opportunity over the first quarter of 2023 to see if they are feasible.
“We will have one quarter, so we will know,” said Robblee.
“If you don’t set aggressive goals, you don’t reach them.”
As presented, the budget allows for around $223,000 to be transferred to the capital budget. Items on the capital budget slated for 2023 include a new on-call truck for the gas system -a requirement of the Alberta Gas Federation-, funds for grave restorations at the Castor cemetery, new bunker gear and breathing apparatus for the fire department and sidewalk repairs.
Also included in the capital budget for 2023 is an upgrade to the Beaverdome ice-plant room, a $1.3 million project that will be funded through reserves, possible grants, and borrowing.
Council has previously heard that the plant room at the Beaverdome is at the end of its life and the 2022-2023 season is the last season of use for it before upgrades need to be done. It was actually questionable whether the plant would be able to be started this season, however with a bit of extra coaxing by the service company the plant got going.
The final budget, which could, or could not, see a tax increase won’t be presented to council for several months; however, for the municipality to keep operating into the new year an interim budget must be passed to work off of until administration knows what the final budget will look like.
As presented, the interim budget accounts for just over $4 million of forecast revenue against spending of just under $3.8 million across all departments, which allows for the funds to be transferred to capital projects.
Council approved the proposed interim and capital budgets in a motion by Coun. Cecil Yates.