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Eckville Town Council approves 2020 budget

Council voted to approve the 2020 Operating and Capital Budget as presented on Dec. 9

The 2020 budget for the Town of Eckville was passed on Monday night.

On Dec. 9 council met for the final regular meeting of 2019 and voted to approve the Operating and Capital Budget as presented.

CAO Jack Ramsden says the 2020 budget is “virtually similar” to the 2019 one and no major changes have been made.

The council package states a $3.17 million operating budget, balanced with a $54,000 transfer from tax stabilization reserve, and 26 Operating and Capital projects totalling $1.4 million.

Some of the projects listed in the 2020 budget are Main Street and the 59 Avenue and 53 Street rehabilitation.

Ramsden explained the Main Street area projects include the solar lights on Main Street, the removal and construction of a new monument, as well as new trees planted alongside the railroad tracks and surrounding the monument.

“We still will have money to do a bit of overlay and a bit of sidewalk replacement, but it hasn’t been nailed down yet as to exactly where it will be,” said Ramsden. “We still do have the funds for those kinds of projects.”

He added the 2020 budget includes adjustments to reflect the new utility rates as well as inflation where necessary.

The budget maintains staff levels without Ramsden or the members of council taking a wage increase, although wage grids are increasing by 1.3 per cent.

At this point, until the Municipal Tax Bylaw Rate is adjusted, the budget is estimating an approximate one per cent tax increase.

“I’m not saying we won’t be doing more reviews and cuts as things come down, but at this point I don’t see anything too major,” said Ramsden, although the budget will be amended if the Town needs to pay for policing services in 2020.

AUMA is looking to have the new price model be delayed until 2021 budgets, but if not Eckville will use money from contingency reserves.

The Town of Eckville could pay $20,881 for policing services this year and the budget would be amended once it became certain.

“My own opinion is, because we are really in a crime crisis here in rural Alberta, I believe we will be paying for policing,” said Ramsden. “What I don’t know is if it’s going to be for he 12 months or the fiscal year, which would be nine months.”

With the payment set to come from reserves tax payers will not be affect if a payment is needed this year.

Additionally, at Monday’s meeting council also voted to lift the 10 per cent penalty currently applied to outstanding balances on Tax Arrears Payment Plans at the end of the year.

“As long as these people are staying up on their payments we will not add more penalty to them, which is a bit of an incentive to encourage people [to get on this kind of plan],” explained Ramsden.

In the CAO report on Dec. 9 an update was provided on the Solar Power Generation project.

Tentatively, Enmax will be installing the solar panels on to the arena’s roof beginning March 15 with the installation taking about three weeks.

Ramsden also said the Town received $5,000 from Repsol Oil and Gas to use towards the Westview Trail Project.

He says the money will pay for one of the two rest stops being installed in the spring and will feature a plaque in Respol Oil and Gas’ honour.

The next regular meeting of council is Jan. 13, 2020.

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