Budget season bleeds into council meeting

Although still very early in the 2020 municipal budgeting process, the topic seemed prominent in the mind of one Virden town councillor at the municipality’s regular meeting on Tuesday evening.

Councillor Grant Gardiner requested further information on two agenda items pertaining to expenses related to canteen supplies and the cost of sending town representatives to national events and conventions.

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During discussion regarding preparations to send representation to the 2020 Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) National Conference and Trade Show, Gardiner suggested the expenses related to this and other similar events should be discussed during this year’s budget development process.

The Town of Virden has budgeted $20,000 and $21,000 for expenses related to travel for 2018 and 2019 respectively. The municipality came $6500 under budget in 2018.

“If we’re looking at budget cuts, this is one I want to look at due to the expense of travel and lodging,” he said.

The town plans to send four representatives to Toronto for the FCM event. According to municipal policy, this would include Mayor Murray Wright and three councillors. Three of the four available positions are filled. Chief Administrative Officer Rhonda Stewart wanted to know if travel accommodations should be made for the fourth representative as well.

After some discussion, Councillor Tina Williams suggested that accommodations should be made for all four, hinting that another councillor may be available to attend.

Mayor Wright mentioned that the issue pertains to a town policy, which can be altered during a regular council meeting. Williams said further discussion of the town’s travel policy and its expenses can take place during budget deliberations.

Earlier in the meeting, councillors voted on the payment of several invoices from 2019 and early this year. Gardiner noticed three separate bills from one vendor for Town Office, Public Works and Tundra Oil & Gas Place (TOGP) concession supplies. All included fuel levees, moving Gardiner to wonder why there were three separate deliveries when one may have sufficed.

Stewart explained that the vendor generally makes regular monthly deliveries, but when supplies run unexpectedly low at TOGP, further deliveries may be required.

Councillor Williams said fuel charges were generally a percentage of the individual order, not the amount of distance traveled to make the delivery.

All councillors voted unanimously to pay the invoices.


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