After several meetings and in-depth discussions, council is almost ready to give the green light to an interim operations budget that will come close to five million dollars.
Mayor Rick Pankiw said he believes the budget talks went well, though there are still several unknowns.
“I expect the assessment will go up,” he noted. “However, there has been a slight increase in residential and commercial (properties).”
Rimbey CAO Lucien Cloutier said the budget cannot be finalized until the assessment is determined which will be in the New Year.
“This year’s budget does not include the figures from requisitions which we will have in the New Year,” he said.
While assessments have shown an average 3.4 per cent increase in the last few years, they have fluctuated wildly from year to year, he noted.
The interim budget does not reflect major changes in service levels, although funding for snow removal has increased by around $70,000.
“We were short last year. This will allow us to have more contracted equipment,” he said.
The CAO added the town is also looking to obtain a second five-ton tandem truck.
Council is looking at streamlining its recycling service.
“There may be some differences in how we deliver our recycling centre services,” he said. “It’s not an effective service now. We want to redirect costs without taking a hit to the service,” he said.
Three of the eight heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVACs) at the Peter Lougheed Community Centre were replaced by Rimbey Heating Ltd last year. An additional three are to be replaced this year and council has budgeted $230,000 for this repair job.
A $700,000 draining ditch project is also in the works, but council is optimistic it will receive a $420,000 grant from the province to help with the cost.
The town is also hoping to partner with the county to help share the costs of projects including the lagoon drainage ditch and the HVACs.
Fire services for the town of Rimbey leave council $77,000 in the red and Cloutier noted the town is also hopeful to alleviate some of this deficit by cost sharing with the county.
This year’s interim budget shows an increase in community policing from one full time and one part time officer to two full time officers.
To help compensate for the additional hours, the town plans to increase the fee charged to the Summer Villages for community policing from $62 an hour to $86.
“It will result in a more effective service,” said Cloutier.
In the interim budget, which Cloutier pointed out is subject to change, the town has allocated $15,000 to the Rimbey Historical Society, $5,000 short of the $20,000 requested.
A $20,000 funding request from the handivan has not yet been finalized. The town allocated $20,000 to the handivan in 2014.
Red Deer River Watershed Alliance request for $11,089 has been given the green light with the stipulation representatives hold an open house to explain the benefits of the program and also speak at the schools regarding the program.
Council agreed to approach Alberta Transportation for funding for the replacement of streetlights.
Extra funding has been included in the budget to increase the custodial service at the Rimbey Community Centre to full time.
In the interim budget $30,000 has been earmarked for renovations to the RCMP parking lot and building and $50,000 to go towards new lighting in the arena.
Cloutier said council is hopeful the assessment doesn’t increase drastically.
“They don’t want to see big changes in the tax rate. We will have to see how the numbers shake out.’
A public meeting will be held in January to present the budget and give the public an opportunity to provide input.