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November 22, 2017 – The Municipal District of Bonnyville Council approved a $90.4 million interim, balanced budget (not including school and lodge requisitions) at its meeting on Wednesday. With economic drivers and community support at the forefront of the M.D.’s new Council, the interim budget delivers Council priorities in the following areas:•Holds municipal mill rates constant with prior years’ mill rates•Funding for a Rural Crime Prevention Program at the cost of $215,000•Implements a new property class for Small Business to reduce the tax burden by 10 %•Establishes a $1 million legacy fund.Reeve Greg Sawchuk says, “Council has chosen a conservative approach to our first budget concentrating on tax relief and controlled spending on new initiatives. Residents may see up to a 10 % assessment reduction in 2018, and with a frozen mill rate, ratepayers may see a reduction in their taxes.”The 2018 budget will be funded through $61.8 million in municipal taxes, $8.7 million in government grants and contributions and $10.1 million from General Revenues, such as fees, equipment replacement program, and reserves. A special financing arrangement will secure additional funds for the La Corey Resource Road in the amount of up to $14 million. The proposed debt servicing of the road will be offset by an annual $1.2 million contribution over 15 years from Improvement District (ID) 349. A further $4.5 million will come in the form of transfers from surplus (reserve funds carried over from projects and funds remaining from previous years’ budgets).Next year will see the M.D. again cooperating with our urban neighbours, with $5 million set aside for the Inter Municipal Cooperation Program (IMCP). Allocations will be made in 2018 based on an equalized per capita assessment.
The 2018 budget also includes a $25,000 contribution to help fund a Mental Health Navigator; $3.2 million for Phase 6 of the Ardmore Underground project; $1.6 million for the Highway 28 Underpass to connect the trail network from the Town of Bonnyville to Vezeau Beach, with $800,000 coming from reserves and $800,000 from the 2018 budget; $6 million for the Wolf Lake Road Reconstruction; $400,000 each for Master Drainage Plans for Moose Lake and Crane Lake; $400,000 for Annual Trail Paving; $600,000 for repairing the bridge on Columbine Creek; $30,000 for improvements at Kinosoo Ridge and a $600,000 fund to begin saving for the upgrade or replacement of the green chairlift; $75,000 for change rooms at Minnie Lake M.D. Park and $60,000 for a Major Emergency Plan Review and update.
Additionally, Council has agreed to continue to fund the Seniors Transportation Grant at $60,000, while Community Halls and Societies will have access to $575,000 for capital and operating costs.
Continuing in the vein of cooperation, the M.D. will provide funding support for the Bonnyville and Cold Lake museums, Beaver River Regional Waste Management Commission, Family and Community Social Services (FCSS) in Bonnyville and Cold Lake, Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority and the libraries in the two major urban communities. The M.D. is also working with neighbouring municipalities to initiate joint programs to access the new $6 million Intermunicipal Cooperation fund through ID 349.
M.D. Council will take another look and pass the final 2018 budget in the spring, after receiving the Education and Lakeland Lodge requisitions from the provincial government.