About two-thirds of the large 2018 budget surplus for the Town of Ponoka has been used or set aside for the future.
At its meeting on Jan. 27, Ponoka town council approved a pair of motions that would transfer about $860,000 of the $934,000 surplus from the 2018 budget into three separate areas.
Tim Schmidt, planning and infrastructure general manager, was acting CAO for the meeting as Albert Flootman was absent, as were Mayor Rick Bonnett and Coun. Sandra Lyons.
Schmidt deferred the discussion on the surplus to Sandra Lund, general manager of corporate services, who explained the bulk of the surplus — $860,000 — would be put into the town’s general benefit reserve while $70,000 would go into the fire services reserve. A motion to that effect was approved by council.
Lund added that the surplus was entirely made through the two rate-supported services the town operates — $448,286 from the electrical utility and $488,134 from environmental services (garbage, water, sewer) — while all the other departments combined for a deficit of just under $2,000.
Furthermore, there would be a pair of transfers from the general benefit reserve.
The first, which council also approved, saw $156,360 taken from the reserve and placed in the 2019 budget to pay for the costs for library services — $96,660 for local agency grants (the amount Ponoka’s Jubilee Library receives for operations from the town) and $59,700 to the Parkland Regional Library.
The next transfer suggested would have $445,000 moved to the 2020 budget, $425,000 of which would be placed into the general administration capital reserve. Lund added about $300,000 of that is to help reduce the increase in property taxes. Meanwhile, the legislative administration capital reserve would get $20,000 with the money specifically geared toward strategic planning.
However, Coun. Teri Underhill wanted to verify the figures involved in the last transfer.
“Just because I need to refresh my memory — there is no urgency in transferring this?” Underhill asked.
Lund agreed there wasn’t and a tabling motion was approved by the rest of council, to delay a discussion or vote until the next council meeting Feb. 11.
First reading of a new bylaw was given that would establish a new three-year agreement for the town to remain a part of Parkland Community Planning Services (PCPS).
Schmidt explained to council the new deal cuts in half — to $20,000 annually — the amount that Ponoka will pay to be a member of the service, which provides day-to-day and special planning projects to municipalities that are members.
PCPS was first established in 1995, with this new agreement being the first major revision to it since then.
The bylaw is expected to come back in front of council for final approval later this month.
Council accepted a pair of reports as information regarding the town’s electrical department’s compliance with the electrical code of conduct.
Lund explained the two reports — one representing the fourth quarter, the other being annual — are filed as part of provincial requirements to demonstrate any non-compliance complaints and, if any, how those are dealt with.
Neither of the reports noted any complaints against the town related to its policies and practices such as non-preferential treatment of retailers.