Wheatland County passes 2021 interim budget

·2 min read

Wheatland County has approved its 2021 interim budget, which includes no tax increase this year.

Wheatland County council passed its new capital and interim budgets during its Dec. 15 regular meeting. This year’s budget talks were conducted during a Nov. 25 committee of the whole meeting, during which council deliberated the budget prepared by county administration.

“The 2021 interim budget that council approved strikes a balance between fiscal responsibility and providing the municipal services that our residents and businesses have come to expect,” said Reeve Amber Link. “The budget is carefully developed to provide a high quality of life at an affordable cost for residents and to provide an ideal location for businesses. The last 10 months have been difficult for everyone, which is why it was important for us to maintain a (zero per cent) tax dollar budget increase.”

The interim capital budget is set at about $23.3 million, an increase from the approximately $14.9 million set in 2020 (although only about $6.2 million has been spent to date). Major capital items include $4.1 million for wastewater projects and $2.7 million for the new Carseland Fire Hall. The county is allocating $160,000 for sidewalk and concrete repair projects in its hamlets.

The operating budget is set at about $45.3 million, a decrease from the approximately $47 million set in 2020. County administration funding decreased by about $760,000 (from $5,950,681 in 2020 to $5,192,118 in 2021). The county’s peace officers are also receiving less operational funding, by about $221,000 (from $847,094 in 2020 to $626,092 in 2021). Operational funding to hamlet public works increased by about $148,000 (from $682,836 to $830,385).

The 2021 interim operating budget eliminates the County Regional Infrastructure Services Program (CRISP), which provides funding to municipalities for county residents use of their infrastructure, such as sports facilities. It is funded by 0.25 mil of non-residential taxes, which in 2020 equalled $662,551. The program started in 2016 as a five-year program, so was set to expire in 2021.

Passing an interim budget ensures new or ongoing projects are funded through the first few months of the new year, according to county administration. Council will then approve a final budget and set tax rates in April 2021.

Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times