Town passes $4.4M budget, ratepayers may see increase

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The Town of Mayerthorpe has a balanced operating budget in place for 2023 totaling approximately $4.4 million, with capital projects for this year to be “pretty small,” said Mayor Janet Jabush.

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Property owners may also see a rate increase this year.

“Nobody wants to see an increase in taxes, but the reality is, we have to keep the lights on in town,” Jabush told the Mayerthorpe Freelancer.

“We’ve surveyed our ratepayers a number of times, and everybody wants to keep the services we have in town.

“That tells me the residents in town appreciate the way things are going, and if it comes down to maintaining taxes and reducing services, most residents are not in favour of that.”

Jabush said the tax rate bylaw won’t be passed until around April. CAO Jennifer Sunderman told the Freelancer it is unknown how much of an increase each resident will face, as the town hasn’t yet received the 2022 assessment.

However, the summary presented to council projects tax revenue of $2.1 million in 2023, up from $2.05 million in 2022.

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For capital projects, Jabush said the town plans to rehabilitate some sidewalks and possibly wells.

If grant funding is available, Jabush said the town hopes to upgrade the Diamond Centre with new carpeting.

At the Mayerthorpe Exhibition Centre, Jabush said the town aspires to make the mezzanine more accessible, including by adding a wheelchair lift and washrooms.

No paving or work to the water treatment plant are planned, Jabush said.

“We’re trying to take it easy in 2023, because we’re playing catch-up after a pretty stressful year for the budget,” she explained.

She cited COVID and reduced property assessment as factors that have placed stress on town finances by limiting revenues.

Additionally, she said there’ve been new bills in the past year, including legal bills as the town and Lac Ste. Anne County finalized their cost-sharing agreement, the Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework.

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The approved 2023 operating budget of $4.4 million is roughly on par with the 2022 budget, according to council’s agenda package.

One of the biggest funding changes in the operating budget this year is in policing costs, from $43,250 in 2022 to $63,463 in 2023.

These contributions are required by the Alberta government, Jabush noted.

Another major change is the amount the town is budgeting for its reserves, from $245,368 in 2022 to $456,306.

“We’re trying to rebuild our reserves after a few tough years, putting money away,” Jabush said.

“There can be unforeseen expenses, and we have reserves set aside to offset those costs when it’s necessary.”

Other 2023 operating expenses include wages, projected at $1.5 million (up from $1.48 million in 2022), contracted services at $332,526 (down from $335,895) and utilities at $221,950 (down from $223,050).

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