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Blackfalds approves 2018 budgets

 Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe

Operating and capital budgets for 2018 have officially been approved by Blackfalds town council.

The budget totals $34.4 million, with a $26,566,680 operating budget which includes a 1.1 per cent property tax increase - an average of an additional $24 per family based on a $315,000 home assessment.

Town of Blackfalds Mayor Richard Poole said the reaction from residents has been generally positive, and he’s heard no complaints regarding the tax increase, which bodes well for what they’ve laid out in the budget.

“Town council worked very hard. We’ve gone through a number of meetings in order to prepare and provide the feedback administration needed,” he said. “To get it done at this time of year is a really excellent feeling for us. There’s a lot of communities that put if off to January and February. For us to get it done in an election year and have it done in the second week of December is really good.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Director of Corporate Services Betty Quinlan in a release issued Wednesday morning.

“Council and Administration worked hard to keep our tax increase low while maintaining the high level of services we provide to our residents,” she said.

“Blackfalds is one of the fastest growing municipalities in the country, and I believe this is a great budget for our growing community.”

The budget saw no changes from the draft that was highlighted at council’s Nov. 28 regular meeting and unveiled during the budget open house Nov. 29.

Changes from last year, however, include an increase of $5.44 per month in sanitary revenue caused by the pending transfer to the North Red Deer Regional Wastewater transmission line expected to go live in April-May 2018, and the creation of four new town positions to accommodate for additional workload and new projects. Council honorariums were also increased following recommendations from the Remuneration Committee.

The contracting out of the Abbey Centre’s concession is another change, but one the town says will save them an operational deficit of $75,000. The contract was awarded to TasteBudz at Tuesday’s regular meeting.

“The advantage to that is we’re not paying town staff. They’re running the operation entirely on their own,” said Poole.

“We’re going to subsidize part of the rental. It may not be a full cost recovery at this point, but we’re going to look at that in the New Year.”

The capital budget, meanwhile, includes 24 projects for a total of $6.9 million, with a $2.5 million focus on parks and recreational projects.

Recreational projects include the completion of the Bike Skill Park, the development of a new outdoor rink at Pine Crescent Park and architectural design for twinning the Blackfalds Multi-Plex Arena, as well as a few smaller projects including a new playground and Phase 3 of All Star Park.

A total of $3.4 million of projects will be developmental projects, including the Northwest Area Storm project involving Lacombe Lake, oversizing of lines, Aurora Heights, Blackfalds Crossing and South St. highway access improvements.

A further $228,000 is allocated for administrative projects including equipment for markeing and communications, and the second phase of an energy efficiency update for building and the facility review study.

The final $740,000 is directed towards transportation projects, such annual maintenance projects, and any land purchases that may arise throughout the year.

Budget deliberations first began in August and concluded in November. For the second year, feedback from the Citizen Budget survey in September was taken into consideration.

For more information on the 2018 budget process and details on what the budget entails, visit www.blackfalds.com.

-abarrett@postmedia.com 



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