Pincher Creek council approves 2021 budget

·4 min read

The surge in Christmas ornaments featuring a dumpster on fire with 2020 on the side seems to indicate how many feel as they look back on the past year.

The challenge now facing us all is gauging how to proceed through the unknown scenarios of 2021, especially as businesses and government organizations try to formalize budgets.

Undeterred, council and administration for the Town of Pincher Creek spent the last several weeks establishing the anticipated revenue and expenses for the new year.

The budget was brought before council and voted on during the Dec. 14 regular meeting.

Mayor Don Anderberg recognized the difficulty of the task and thanked members of council and administration for their hard work, especially director of finance Wendy Catonio.

“This budget’s been very difficult, I would say, because of the circumstances around Covid,” the mayor said. “We had lots of discussion — we weren’t all on the same page all the time, but we tried to do the best we could.”

For Coun. Mark Barber, points of disagreement that remained in the budget prevented him from supporting it.

“I am concerned that the budget as presented did not properly address the replacement of the curling rink and the needed improvements to the golf course,” he said. “Most importantly, the budget does not address the fantastic capital requirements of the emergency services commission, as required over the next 10 years.”

An estimated $15 million will need to be shared between the town and the MD of Pincher Creek over the next decade. Part of that expense includes a new fire truck and upgrades to the Pincher Creek fire hall.

Coun. Barber requested a recorded vote and was the only council member to oppose the budget. Mayor Anderberg and Couns. Jackson, McGillivray and Korbett all voted in favour.

Total revenue for 2021 was projected to be $9,544,779.53. Expenses are set to be $10,587,664.45 with the deficit covered by government transfers for capital.

The proposed two per cent municipal increase was removed for 2021. Further decisions on the budget will be made before the mill rate is finalized for the new year. It’s hoped a public budget information session will be held early to mid 2021, depending on circumstances surrounding Covid.

The town’s capital budget for 2021 is set for $8,030,000. Each municipal department presented project proposals to council, and in consultation with administration council determined which projects needed to proceed and which could be deferred.

Projects approved for 2021 include the second-phase engineering report for the RCMP detachment, five new fire hydrants, twinning the sanitary force main and installing irrigation at the early-learning centres.

Further meetings will be held to finalize options once grants from the Alberta government are known.

The budget is available online in the Dec. 14 agenda package at http:// bit.ly/PCDec14.

Sky-high photography

Council tentatively agreed to participate in the Oldman River Regional Services Commission’s 2021 urban orthophotography project.

The project is set for the spring and involves taking photographs from an airplane of the town’s municipal area. The images will be used as part of the town’s geographic information system for accurate mapping and land descriptions.

“I just see this as a very valuable tool for our community,” said Coun. Scott Korbett. “In my real job, I use this almost every day.”

Orthophotographic updates have been conducted since 2005, with the image quality and effectiveness increasing in each update. The most recent was completed in 2019.

The Town of Fort Macleod is the managing partner with ORRSC for the project. Typically the Alberta Community Partnership fully covers the project cost, though if the funding application is unsuccessful the price ranges between $7,023.93 and $9,131.11, depending on how many municipalities commit.

Council will have the opportunity to withdraw its participation should funding from the province be unavailable. For now, preliminary support helps in the grant application process and gathering accurate land area measurements for price quotes.

Next meeting

The next regular council meeting will be held virtually Monday, Jan. 11, at 6 p.m. The meeting can be accessed at https://www.gotomeet. me/TownofPincherCreekCouncil, and agenda packages are available online at https://bit.ly/PcCouncil.

Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze