County Council approves interim capital, operational budgets

Wheatland County council has approved administration’s proposed interim capital and operating budgets for 2023-25, and 2027 as was presented during the most recent regular meeting.

The county had originally begun budget discussions, Nov. 15, 2022 at the scheduled Committee of the Whole Meeting.

The interim budget was once again brought forward at the Dec. 6, and Dec. 20 regular meetings of council. It was ultimately approved during the latter such meeting.

Based on the report and recommendations provided to council by County Administration, the capital budget will be $25,389,248.

This includes accounting for a 2.5 per cent increase in taxation revenue for municipal purposes, and the utilization of approximately two per cent of prior year unallocated surplus acquired from previous years.

Administration is anticipating that taxation increases will be offset by non-residential growth within the county, which was indicated to have been an objective since 2018.

The operational and capital budgets have been in the works since August, 2022, beginning with reviews of work plans and requirements for 2023.

As presented to council on Dec. 20, the interim capital budget put forward was based on scenario one, as presented at the Dec. 6 regular meeting, the details for which are available for public reading in Council’s meeting agenda, alongside the other three proposed scenarios.

A summary of each of the four scenarios originally presented to county council was also published in the Dec. 21 edition of The Strathmore Times.

Scenario One of the capital budget, as presented, approves all capital projects which were put forward in the planning process.

Alterations to the county’s operating budget since the original Nov. 15 presentation are also available for public reading in the Dec. 20 County council meeting agenda.

During the meeting discussion, council requested details regarding two paving projects which were noted as potentially deferable to a future year.

Coun. Tom Ikert advocated he did not feel comfortable supporting the approval of spending taxpayer money on paving projects prior to speaking with Alberta Transportation, as well as the Alberta Ministry which oversees road maintenance and transportation issues.

When the Government of Alberta releases its budget, which is typically completed in March, the county will confirm the availability of grant funding for certain projects and accordingly adjust its own interim budget.

A finalized version of the County’s budget is generally determined in April, at which point local tax rates are also determined. Residents and businesses will then receive their tax notices.

Alongside the county’s approval of their interim capital and operating budgets, a motion put forward by Ikert directing county administration to contact Alberta Transportation requesting a meeting with the Minister of Transportation and to prepare a brief for council regarding high priority transportation matters, was also carried.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times