December Bearspaw Beat - Budgets, Cemetaries, Porch pirates
Last month, Council reviewed the draft budget. Each department gave a high-level overview of its costs complete with a wish list of what they would like to see included in the 2020 budget. While the County’s position is that the provincial cutbacks to municipalities will not have much impact on our operations, the estimated net amount available to fund new initiatives in the operating budget for 2020 is a mere $58,300 – a huge departure from 2019’s $2.4 million.
The draft budget for new capital projects is just over $20 million. Provincial cuts to Municipal Sustainability Initiative grants are slated to begin in 2020-21, meaning we are safe this year but will need to start preparing for reduced provincial funding.
The draft budget notes that tax revenue is split 55% non-residential properties and 45% residential. Compared to many municipalities this is positive, however, it’s still a long way from the 70/30 split we are looking to achieve.
The 2020 draft Budget assumes a 1.4% growth in assessed property values (largely from new construction) and a 2% tax increase - a total increase in property tax revenue of $2,639,100. Unfortunately, the draft budget also anticipates non-tax revenues to fall by $2,551,400, which explains why there is far less flexibility in the budget this year over last.
To put it in perspective, the increase in property tax revenues just about covers the $2.85 million cost of running the Chief Administration Officer’s (CAO) Office. This includes the CAO, the 5-member Executive Leadership team, two Intergovernmental Affairs staff, and an Executive Assistant, along with overhead costs such as advocacy.
Council’s budget is approximately $1.1 million. This includes the nine councillors’ salaries and expenses, as well as council initiatives and community outreach efforts.
Did you know that Rocky View is in the cemetery business? The County has three active cemeteries – Garden of Peace, Bottrell and Dalemead. The net cost of this department is approximately $1.2 million a year. Needless to say, my motion to explore options to remove the County from this business passed unanimously.
Crime Prevention/Holiday Message
With the holiday season around the corner, here are some tips about staying safe over the holidays.
Always lock your doors – home and vehicle. Make sure it looks like someone is home. Gates, dogs, cameras, motion-sensitive/timer lights are all great deterrents as thieves look for easy targets. Keep valuables in a safe.
Never send cash in the mail. When ordering gifts/important documents have them held at the post office or delivered to a neighbour/friend who is home to receive it. Front door package thefts are common this time of year (porch pirates). It may be inconvenient to have to go elsewhere to retrieve packages but better to be safe than sorry.