Beaverlodge likely to remain in black despite COVID and lost revenue: Mayor

·4 min read

Beaverlodge council received an updated variance report during its regular meeting last week, documenting budgeted and actual expenses for the year.

The variance report for up to Sept. 30 shows Beaverlodge had revenues of $6.58 million, up from $5.45 million three months ago, and expenses of $4.7 million, up from $3 million in the last report.

“Some (expenses) will jump up, but we should still be able to remain in black,” said mayor Gary Rycroft.

“The staff have been watching what they spend and have been very diligent about any expenses, because it is a tough time.”

The town’s revenue of $6.58 million so far is short of the $7.4 million anticipated in the 2020 municipal budget.

Expenses of $4.7 million are also short of the $7.46 million projected for 2020, according to the variance report.

Rycroft said the report offered no surprises.

“Some departments didn’t function very much, so there’s wasn’t much for expenses,” he said.

For example, Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) was budgeted at $269,503 and so far has had expenses of $143,222.

Within the FCSS budget, home support salaries have cost $4,957 (compared to $45,103 budgeted), and handi-bus fuel has cost $255 ($2,500 budgeted).

Revenues for home support and the handi-bus are also below expectations, with home support generating $3,746 and $12,000 having been anticipated.

Handi-bus fees and charges have generated $229, with $4,000 anticipated.

Rycroft attributed the variances to the pandemic lockdown, when home support services weren’t offered. The handi-bus still hasn’t gone back into operation, said Tina Letendre, acting chief administrative officer (CAO).

Facilities’ revenues and expenses down

Recreation fees at the Beaverlodge Arena have generated $51,944 so far, short of the anticipated $95,000.

Despite the arrival of winter, Rycroft said he doesn’t anticipate the arena will see its projected revenue.

“With the rules we have to function under, there will be fewer people at any given time in the arena, so (revenue) will probably come up a bit - but not dramatically,” he said.

Pool recreation fees have generated $79,235 so far (compared to $275,000 budgeted), and pool rentals have brought in $18,030 ($25,000 budgeted).

Increased cleaning has also limited the rec centre’s hours, as it opens for one hour and then closes for a half-hour of cleaning, Letendre told the News recently.

“There’s a lot of new logistics we’re not used to,” Rycroft said.

St. Mary School rental revenue is unchanged from three months ago at $2,662, with the budget only anticipating $500 for all 2020.

Admin expenses lower

Administration has had lower expenses than anticipated, at $652,301 rather than the budgeted $1 million.

A major variance is that $386,673 was budgeted for salaries, but only $266,363 has been spent.

Rycroft said last week he believed the lack of a permanent CAO played into the variance.

He said council recently completed its job interview process for the next CAO and should be making an announcement soon.

Travel expenses for administration are also down at $1,786, with $10,000 budgeted.

Bylaw enforcement revenues are generally short of expectations, with traffic and bylaw fines at $12,107 (budgeted at $30,000) and animal licences at $3,200 (budgeted at $4,000).

Rycroft noted roads have been quieter during the pandemic.

However, animal control fines brought in $2,700, with

the budget not anticipating revenue in that area.

Municipal tags are a new type of ticket introduced this year in some bylaws, where all revenue goes to the town and none to the province.

So far, municipal tags have generated $450 in revenue, with no income having been anticipated in the budget.

Bylaw enforcement expenses are in red so far, with expenses of $83,889 and $115,627 having been budgeted.

Some costs imminent

Rycroft cautioned Beaverlodge still has expenses imminent.

For the RCMP, the town hasn’t yet contributed to policing, with the province requiring the town pay $48,871.

According to the report, residential tax revenue of $2.05 million exceeded budget expectations of $2.04 million, though non-residential revenue of $1.10 million is so far short of the expected $1.17 million.

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News