ST. PAUL - The Town of St. Paul has approved a balanced budget for 2020, while maintaining the mill rate at the same level as last year.
On April 29, council held a special meeting to approve its operating budget, but put off approving its capital budget and five-year capital plan, which was later approved on May 7.
On April 29, CAO Kim Heyman went over the operating budget, noting a few items have been cut back, such as janitorial costs, and conferences/workshops due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A few other items, such as funds for annual rodeo week celebration, were kept in the budget just in case.
“I didn’t want to tie our hands behind our back,” said Heyman, when speaking about the $15,000 set aside for rodeo week, which occurs around the Labour Day long weekend. Due to measures in place around large gatherings, it is still uncertain what rodeo week in St. Paul may look like this year.
Family Day celebrations in February were cancelled due to weather, so budgeted expenses are lower than expected, although there were still some expenses to account for, explained Heyman.
In 2019, the town budgeted $40,000 for community grants, but only spent $30,000, so the new budget has been adjusted to $32,000. That number does not include the cost of town facilities donated to organizations.
Costs for the Centerfield Music Festival will be moved out to prepaid expenses since the June event has been postponed to 2021, said Heyman.
The town will also once again support St. Paul Education with a $10,000 contribution to its Family School Liaison Worker (FSLW) program.
The policing contract with RCMP for the Town of St. Paul is up a bit, and will cost the town about $1.5 million this year.
“This whole budget balances to zero, how it is,” said Heyman. Overall, expenses in 2020 are down by about $100,000, according to the CAO. “I think we’re heading in the right direction.”
The total operating budget is set at $15.2 million in expenses, which is the same number as budgeted revenues. The town will collect just under $6.7 million in revenue from municipal taxes in 2020. The estimated municipal revenues and transfers from all sources other than taxation for the Town of St. Paul is estimated at $8.4 million.
At the April 29 meeting, council discussed its capital budget and five-year plan. Heyman said the quote for the curbside garbage cans the town plans to purchase for garbage collection, has gone down by almost $100,000.
The playground at the ball diamonds will be redone in 2020 at a cost of about $91,000, along with a handful of street projects.
The roof at the curling rink and library is in dire need of being redone. Heyman said the roof work is “Something we have to get done.”
Funds have also been set aside for the CAP Arena upgrade project.
Paving around the Reunion Station building was a topic of discussion, with Coun. Ron Boisvert and Coun. Gary Ward speaking in favour of moving ahead with the work, despite it not being included in the budget presented.
The discussion resulted in the capital budget not being passed that evening.
A special meeting was then held on May 7, where the capital budget and five-year plan was brought back to the table. Heyman noted a number of assumptions have to be made in the five-year plan, such as MSI funding and grants.
Paving around Reunion Station was brought back up, with Ward noting the work would help with drainage around the building and protect the building itself. He said doing the work would be a benefit to everyone using that area, which is typically very busy.
It noted that funds could be moved from the town’s curb, gutter and sidewalk projects to make it work.
Coun. Brad Eamon said that while he was in favour of the project at Reunion Station, he wasn’t in favour of doing it right now. Coun. Nathan Taylor said he was in favour of putting the project in the plan for 2021, and bumping it ahead if necessary.
A motion to reallocate the $45,000 set aside for the paving project at Reunion Station into the 2021 capital budget was carried by the majority of council. A motion to approve the capital budget as amended was also carried.
The capital expenses budgeted in 2020 total $18 million. About $16 million of that total is for the wastewater treatment plant upgrades currently taking place.
Council agreed to accept the five-year capital plan as information.
On May 11, council approved the second and third readings of the mill rate bylaw.
"This is the same mill rate as last year," said Heyman during the May 11 meeting.
The tax rate for residential is 7.585 mills and 16.201 for non-residential. This year, penalties will only accrue on unpaid residential and non-residential taxes as of Sept. 30, instead of June 30. The decision to push the penalty date back was made in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the April 27 town council meeting, Barb McCarthy from JMD went over the audited financial statements for 2019.
Revenues on net municipal taxes in 2019 were slightly below the budgeted amount, coming in at $6.7 million, instead of the $6.8 estimated in the budget.
According to the consolidated statement of operations, expenses had been budgeted at $17.9 million, but came in at nearly $18.2 million, resulting in a deficiency of $747,516.
The town's long-term debt increased in 2019 to $9.4 million, reported McCarthy, which is up from about $5 million in 2018.