Most municipalities in Alberta need a short-term budget in place to continue operating until the new year’s budget is finalized early in the spring.
The Town of Ponoka is no different in that, except council this time around has approved nearly every aspect of the regular 2019 budget. The only real exceptions are the exact property tax figures and some year-end adjustments which includes what will be done with any 2018 surplus.
At council’s meeting Dec. 11, a motion was approved which sets the interim overall budget at just shy of $26 million, split between operating at slightly above $18.6 million and capital at close to $7.4 million
Sandra Lund, director of corporate services, noted that council’s review of the new budget done Nov. 21 and 22 was substantial with regard to changes to both the capital and operating budgets.
Coun. Carla Prediger asked if administration had a final figure of what the property tax rates would look like, but Lund stated the interim budget is based on the current assessment data available as of Oct. 31. However, the assessments used to come up with the 2019 tax numbers will be brought forward when the final budget is presented in the spring.
Among the big changes in 2019, that have already been implemented, include cutting reserve transfers for electrical, water and sewer utilities by 50 per cent while keeping the rest in operating funds for those utilities; maintaining the Ponoka library funding at the 2018 level of $96,660; cancelling a requested one-third full time equivalent staff increase and allocating to operating funds $125,000 of the 2017 budget surplus.
Lund added that a pair of requisitions — for Rimoka and the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School Division — will be part of the budget when they are received once the 2019 provincial budget is approved and that any carry-forward capital projects from this year will be adjusted upon receipt of actual costs following the end of the year.