Morinville council waives cuts

Councilors in Morinville waived proposed cuts to buses, the recreation center and the town museum, but bumped the town’s operating deficit to $1.9 million.

Morinville Council made additional changes to its 2022 operating budget at its March 8 meeting.

Council passed an interim budget in December after the 2022 draft budget proposed a 15.39% tax hike. Since then, the Council has revised the budget to reduce this tax increase.

As of March 8, the draft budget provided for a 5% increase in municipal taxes (3.5% operating, 1.5% capital) and an operating deficit of approximately $1.9 million, the most important for at least a decade. , the budget documents suggest.

A 5% tax hike would add $126.98 (about 16 adult day passes to the Morinville Recreation Center) to a typical Morinville home’s annual tax bill of $334,603, according to budget documents. .

The plan also included a long list of service cuts, such as the cancellation of Snowman, French Heritage, Easter Egg and Best Garden events and a 50% cut in flower planting.

Cuts canceled

Council voted to reverse several service cuts proposed in the proposed budget.

Council voted 4-3 (Councillors Ray White, Scott Richardson and Stephen Dafoe opposed) to drop a proposal to cut council pay by 5% at the suggestion of Mayor Simon Boersma, who argued that the municipal councilors worked a lot. and were paid much less than other regional councillors.

“The number of hours that we as counselors put in, I think, has value,” Boersma said, and that value is reflected in the community.

Dafoe, who originally proposed the restoration and wanted it to remain in place for the rest of the council’s term, said he was meant to show residents that the council was working to reduce its running costs.

Boersma won support 4-3 (Councillors Richardson, Jenn Anheliger and Rebecca Balanko opposed) to instead take $15,000 from the council’s operating budget, roughly matching what it would have saved thanks to the reduction. Boersma said the reduction is equivalent to the cost of sending three people to the annual conference of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

The Council supported a decision of the Coun. Maurice St. Denis to cancel the proposed sale of the city’s community bus and explore new partnerships and operating models for it.

The council learned last month that the city had suspended the bus program due to the pandemic and a loss of provincial funding for it. Residents had expressed concerns about how the sale of the bus might affect the elderly, many of whom depended on it for transportation.

The city’s director of financial services, Travis Nosko, said selling the bus would save the city about $20,000 a year, while keeping it parked would cost up to $8,000 a year.

White said resuming community bus service was a priority for residents of nursing homes he spoke with during the election campaign last year, adding that selling the bus now could force the city to buy a replacement in two years.

“Getting rid of the bus doesn’t give enough value for the dollar.”

The Council also supported St. Denis’ decision to rescind a proposed 10% reduction in the city museum. St. Denis said the museum works directly to support the council’s goals of strengthening community identity and volunteerism. This reduction would bring the museum back to its 2016 funding levels and could affect the city’s Indigenous reconciliation efforts with the Alexander First Nation.

Dafoe said the museum had operated for many years with little change in its budget and helped preserve hundreds of photos and artifacts.

“If we want to preserve history…we have to support these institutions.”

Council voted 6 to 1 (Anheliger against) to overturn a proposal to reduce the hours of operation of the Morinville Recreation Center by 20 hours per week. Richardson, who proposed the reversal, said the reduced hours also reduced the center’s revenue.

Nosko said the administration recently learned that Sturgeon County had not, as previously thought, canceled its $25,000 annual contribution to the city library. The council supported his suggestion to take $25,000 from the library and apply it to the $277,000 to $291,000 in back pay the town had to spend on its contract with the RCMP.

Dafoe decided to increase the library’s funding until her full request of $542,121 — an increase of $99,414 from what she got in 2021 — arguing that the library is doing a great job for the community for low pay. The motion passed 4-3 (White, Balanko and Boersma opposed).

Larger deficit

Nosko said the council’s actions added about $164,000 in spending to the budget — the equivalent of a 1.5% tax hike — and about $107,000 to the city’s tax-funded operating deficit. the city, bringing it to what The Gazette estimated at around $1.9 million.

The board is due to hold a special meeting to vote on the revised budget later this month. Morinville residents can weigh in on the budget at an open house at the Morinville Community Cultural Center on March 15 at 7 p.m. Visit www.morinville.ca/en/town-hall/budget.aspx for more details.

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