While both the Reeve and Chief Administrative Officer admitted it’s not sustainable long-term, the RM of Wallace-Woodworth budget shows a reduced mill rate to ease the financial burden for ratepayers during the COVID-19 crisis.
Reeve Clayton Canart’s opening address via PowerPoint sums up a change made just days before the budget public hearing on April 16.
“As our budget neared completion, we were unfortunately met with the COVID-19 pandemic. Aware of the impacts and stresses that lay ahead, we took the opportunity to revisit our
financial plan,” Canart said.
The budget brings a 3.4 mill decrease. “These changes are not sustainable long-term and are presently only planned for the current year,” he said.
CAO Garth Mitchell explained that Wallace-Woodworth has a reasonable cash position reflected in the audited December 2018 nominal surplus of $7.3 million.
Allocated reserves show an unaudited total balance as of Jan. 1, 2020 of $1.976 million.
The 2020 budget holds a zero per cent increase in non-capital spending.
Half of the funds for roads come from oil royalties, mineral leases and surface oil leases, up to a maximum of $750,000 annually. If more is needed council may, by a resolution, dip into the reserve balance of $1.515 million for road infrastructure.
Capital spending, as originally planned, will move forward.
The planned purchase of a backhoe was questioned by a ratepayer joining the virtual meeting.
Brian Heaman suggested that with a number of backhoe’s owned by surrounding businesses, it is not the time for the RM to purchase one. He suggested that the business community could be contracted for the work.
Canart countered by citing the value in having the hoe immediately available when RM work needs to be done.
Last year’s purchase of road sanding equipment proved valuable, Mitchell explained in his financial report, saying that it was a winter when sanding was necessary and by owning the equipment, roads were sanded sooner and more often than had they hired one.
The value of one mill in Wallace-Woodworth rose in 2020. The mill rate is calculated by taking the total monies required, divided by the value of a mill which is $429,153.15 for 2020. Mitchell explained that the increased value of a mill means less mills are required to raise the same amount of money as in 2019.
Mitchell said that even with 2020 being an assessment year, “all ratepayers will see a reduction their municipal taxes for 2020.”
As an example, an average house in Elkhorn with a $150,000 assessment will see a decrease in municipal taxes of approximately $225.
The balanced budget of $12.1 million reflects a nominal surplus transfer because of unexpended 2019 tax dollars as well as revenue from taxation and grants in lieu, oil royalties/lease revenues, grants and transfers from reserves for specific purposes.
Council gave second and third reading at the Regular Meeting of April 21 where the budget for 2020 was approved.