After several hours of deliberations, Rimbey town council unanimously passed a budget which will see no increase in the mill rate.
Mayor Rick Pankiw said budget talks were held Friday, March 20 in the council chambers and went on through most of the day.
The $6.3 million operating budget received a $50,000 boost from reserves, bringing the reserve total down to $4 million.
Pankiw said council agreed that it is important to do their part to not impose more financial burden on residents who are already experiencing money worries due to the COVID-19 virus.
“We have to think of others in this situation,” he said. “We have to be the leaders.”
Pankiw said he made a motion during budget deliberations for councillors not to take a scheduled five per cent increase. The motion was passed unanimously by council.
“There was no discussion. It was just passed,” he said.
Service levels will remain the same.
In a further effort to help out the citizens of Rimbey there will be no penalties applied to any utility account for the remainder of 2020.
The tax penalty, normally applied on Aug. 1 for unpaid taxes will also be waived.
Rimbey CAO Lori Hillis said the $2.7 million capital budget will see council purchasing a new truck for public works, putting up new street lights from the hotel corner to 55 St. west, starting the main water reservoir upgrade and finishing concrete repairs. They are also considering replacing the zamboni and tieing in the new water well to the existing system.
Funding for the capital budget comes from MSI grant money and reserves.
Hillis said council spent many hours during budget deliberations brainstorming to come up with the best financial decisions possible.
“Council worked really hard to keep the tax rate the same as last year,” she said. “Many difficult decisions had to be made.”
Pankiw said many local businesses are feeling the adverse affects of the COVID-19 virus and have closed their doors. He hopes the closures will remain temporary.
“Downtown is very quiet. There are not many cars around,” he said.
Rimbey town office is now closed, but staff are taking turns working at home and at the office. Utility bills can be dropped off in a mail slot located in the front of the building by the ramp.