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Melfort Council Gets First Look at Preliminary Operating Budget

The first step towards a 2017 operating budget has been completed by Melfort Council, as they approved the preliminary version of the document last week.

Getting their first look at projected costs for the calendar year, a tax rate savings of almost 2% could be possible if separate funding is found for the Fleet Replacement Fund.

Mayor Rick Lang says Council might take a similar approach to the Infrastructure Replacement Fund instead.

“We decided we were going to fund that particular program in a way we could afford, it would build annually, we could still afford it, and would become quite meaningful in a couple of years,” Lang says. “Instead of trying to do it all at once, you do it step by step and I’m not sure we can’t do the same thing with the Heavy Equipment Replacement Fund.”

If all $131,000 is transferred from the Utility Operating Fund to the Fleet Replacement Fund, residents can expect a tax increase of around 4.6%, otherwise it would be around 6.5% if no money is transferred.

Lang says although it wouldn’t provide the largest savings to the tax base, allocating an even $100,000 could be a good start.

“To be honest, $100,000 is not chump change,” he says. “So, if you can kick start that with $100,000 or $131,000, that will be the question for Council in future meetings. Do we start smaller with $100,000, which still is not small, or do we go all the way with $131,000?”

Other additional budget requests made by the City include a major update to their website, a transfer to annual payment of internal debt, and updating the Melfort Official Community Plan.

Lang adds with the annual SUMA Convention coming up, it’s an opportunity to compare notes with other communities.

“If as a community you’re looking at potentially a 10% tax increase, and when you look at all the other communities the highest proposed tax increase is 5%, you know that there’s something wrong with your projections,” he says. “So, that’s the only reason we compare to other communities, is to see if at least we’re on the same wavelength.”

Administration will now take recommendations made by Council and tweak the existing document, with the next version due before Council sometime after the SUMA Convention.

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