Council approves interim budget for 2018

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DIDSBURY – At a recent special council meeting, councillors approved an interim budget for the 2018 operational and capital budgets.

“Council approved the 2017 operating budget to serve as an interim budget until such time that the 2018 budget is reviewed and approved,” said CAO Harold Northcott.

Mayor Rhonda Hunter said that the budget process has gone well.

“Council is just not prepared yet with the level of comfort and the knowledge is still developing of a good budget,” said Hunter. “We want to make sure we do it right. It was a good decision knowing that everyone has to be comfortable with it. We can operate on an interim budget.”

Hunter said council is hoping that staff can make a few more cuts in certain areas, but mostly “it’s about comfort level. It’s a big document; lots of pages. (It’s) making sure we get through them and making the right decisions.”

Prior to the meeting Hunter met with Northcott and Nita Barthomolow, chief financial officer.

“I was at the town office in my office and I discussed things with them on and off all day,” said Hunter. “It wasn’t a workshop at all, it was just me meeting with them. I thank management and administration for all their hard work with the budget.”

“The mayor met with the CAO and CFO to discuss the budget and carry through with some of the wishes of council that were discussed at the public operational and capital budget meetings,” said Northcott.

Council is hoping to have no increase in the mill rate, although the rate will not be passed until 2018 when the assessment numbers are received.

“I think we all agree,” she said. “We have options for zero or one per cent decreases but that depends on future cuts. Until the final operational budget is approved – we want to maintain it at zero per cent, we certainly don’t want an increase.”

The proposed operating budget is $11,275,658.

“That number may change prior to the final ratification by council,” said Northcott.

Northcott added that the final mill rate will be determined in the spring.

“At this point, administration is projecting a zero per cent increase to the mill rate,” he said. “However, that will not be determined until the final budget is approved and assessment figures are realized in 2018.”

“Council is just not prepared yet with the level of comfort and the knowledge is still developing of a good budget.”

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Craig Lindsay

Craig Lindsay is a reporter with the Mountain View Gazette who joined the newspaper in 2016. He covers news, sports and community events in Didsbury, Carstairs and Cremona. He is a photographer and columnist as well.