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Schreiber finalizes 2023 budget
The special council meeting in June was all about the 2023 budget. Before a budget can be finalized council must identify where money needs to be spent. A wish list of items was presented in previous meetings but needed to be fine tuned in an effort to control costs. Priorities were identified and costs were determined. Items not requiring immediate attention were dismissed or delayed in order to reduce impact on revenue generated.
Treasurer Marlene Bottomley estimates that a 3.1% increase in revenue would be needed to balance this years budget, that, she said, would amount to below $150 per $100,000 assessed value. It’s important to remember that water and sewage revenue is generated through separate billing. This year a bylaw was passed to increase water rates by 6% overall as costs of operation have risen. Any projects that exceed available capital are usually referred to grant applications or in extreme situations, procuring funding through loans. Another source for funding is transferring out of reserves which are determined each year.
Some items such as fire department equipment upgrades were pre approved and were deemed essential so they remain in the budget. Maintenance and repairs to municipal buildings were also given priority as the new bylaws for asset management require all township assets to be maintained. CAO Nathan Dias stressed the fact that any cuts made could have implications for next years budget as the repairs would still be needed.
On the subject of the Whitesand Lake dock, councillor McGrath suggested the possibility of a user group finding funding for a new dock might be appropriate. The actually beach area does not belong to the town so technically they are under no obligation for repairs but it was pointed out at a previous meeting that the beachfront area contributes to the area’s economic development and should be kept in the portfolio.
Utility costs for municipal buildings including the library, medical centre and arena have all increased and budgeting for these items is always a best guess. Almost all of the older systems have been upgraded or replaced with propane units with the hope that there will be a cost savings in the upcoming years.
Maintaining a reserve fund helps to offset any surprise expenses and the discussion around what reserve funds would be used for was very thorough. Using reserve funds wisely can help avoid larger tax hikes but those funds need to be topped up on a regular basis.
At the end of the meeting council felt that it hade made the best choices in order to maintain current service delivery without having to add excess burden to tax payers. The final operating budget increase compared to the previous year would be under 1.8% for the 2023 year. The budget will be brought forward for approval the next council meeting.
Schreiber Community Media is a non profit organization established with the aim of providing media production services and training for the residents of Schreiber and surrounding areas. Schreiber is located on the north shore of Lake Superior approximately two hours east of Thunder Bay.
The Schreiber Media Centre is locating in the Schreiber Public Library and includes tools for recording, live streaming and post production of audio and video.