It’s a case of steady as she goes for Brazeau County.
Last week council passed an interim budget for the coming year which the municipality says will continue its focus on core services and ratepayer relief. There is no tax increase and fees are expected to remain at current levels.
“As always, council is spending where it makes sense and where it is needed to provide municipal services to residents, while keeping as much money as possible in their pockets,” said Reeve Bart Guyon.
The budget allocates $14.8 million for roads, infrastructure and equipment replacement. Highlights include improvements to more than 27 kilometres of roads. A further 17 kilometres of road improvements have been carried over from last year’s budget. The County will also be spending on solar power installation at the Cynthia water treatment plant, making improvements to the walking path on the Ring Road near Drayton Valley and putting in a new playground at the Rocky Rapids Hall. Money has been allocated for a new command vehicle and a modernized radio system for the fire department.
For residential taxpayers there is a 20 percent incentive for those who pay on or before the deadline at the end of June.
The interim budget is put in place to allow operations to continue prior to the passing of the final budget for 2024. That’s expected to happen next April.
Prior to last week’s budget meetings council received an update on Brazeau County’s financial position. As of the end of September the County had a cash and investment balance of $48 million. Of that money, $8.7 million is either allocated for capital projects or is in a restricted account for items such as water and sewer capital replacement. A further $3 million is payable next month as the provincial school requisition for 2023. The County’s operating expenses run at about $3 million a month, meaning $27 million will be needed prior to an influx of cash when property taxes are paid at the end of June next year. The County is also expecting to receive money from the province to offset the bulk of the costs of fighting the Buck Creek Fire last May.
“We have $9.5 million that isn’t already allocated, plus whatever is reimbursed from the fires,” said CAO Kent Edney. Those reimbursed fire expenses are expected to be in the area of $6 million.
By Graham Long, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Nov 30, 2023 at 11:51