Rocky View Weekly phoned me, yesterday. She had attended our council meeting last Monday. She noted that in my report to council, I proposed some cutbacks in the budgets of three village departments; The Volunteer Fire Department, Public Works Department, and the Recycling Department. She wondered why.
I explained that Beiseker faced some tough economic roads in 2014 and we need to get strong again! Snow removal was a biggy last year. The winter of 2013-2014 dumped huge amounts of snow on the village. Our snow removal bill skyrocketed! We also had a large amount in overdue municipal taxes not paid.
These factors, plus a couple of large expenses put us in a "hand to mouth" financial situation. That is not a situation that council is comfortable with!
Our Chief Administrative Officer has made enormous strides in collecting unpaid property taxes. We've found that folks find in easier to pay their property taxes in monthly installments, instead of one big bill in the summertime. Many have arranged to do this and our unpaid tax file has shrunk down to a very small amount! But I still believe we must trim our expenses, too.
Premier Prentice has been telling us that Alberta's dependence on oil revenue puts the province's finances in jeopardy when oil prices drop to less than half of what they were a few months ago. He has discussed different ways the province will manage their finances under the current circumstances. I think it is the responsibility of municipalities to also sharpen their pencils and trim their budgets accordingly. I don't believe a huge property tax hike is the way to go!
Staff from each of the three departments I've named will determine if a cutback is possible without compromising the services the village provides. They will report back to council. Our budgeting process will go on for the next few weeks. By the way; In future council meetings, I will be asking other village departments and service areas to consider cutbacks, too. Stay tuned!
What do you think? Get in touch with a village councilor and tell them what you think should be done.