Black Diamond ready for budget debates
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013 08:38 am
Black Diamond’s water treatment plant and an outdoor recreation facility are among the major items soon to be discussed in the Town’s 2013 budget meetings.
Mayor Sharlene Brown said she expects budget discussions to be underway and a wish list established for major projects in town either later this month or early February, adding council is right on schedule with its 2013 budget.
“Everything is going absolutely fabulous for Black Diamond right now and we are right on track,” she said. “For the budget numbers we will probably be looking at late January, early February and then it will take a few meetings to get through it.”
Brown said the Town’s water treatment plant has exceeded its life expectancy and is in need of repairs or replacement by the end of 2014 in order to meet environmental standards.
The Town’s partnership in the Quad Regional Water Project, an initiative to share water resources with the MD of Foothills, Turner Valley and eventually Longview, will likely mean Black Diamond will tie into Turner Valley’s water treatment plant.
The partnership will likely be a cost savings for Black Diamond, however, Brown said the Town must put aside funds to cover costs to upgrade and keep the neighbouring community’s plant operating. She added Black Diamond’s facility could be revamped for use as a pumping station.
Another priority for the Town is an outdoor fitness area behind the Oilfields Regional Arena.
Brown said the Town hired consultants to look into the cost of installing outdoor exercise and playground equipment for children and to pursue any grants available to assist with the cost of putting the facility in place.
“It’s incremental,” she said. “I’m going to make the assumption that we are going to put the outdoor physical equipment first and hopefully get some playground equipment out there for kids so while the parents are exercising on the equipment there will be a place for the kids to go.”
Brown said the Town is also committing approximately $35,000 to look at the feasibility of moving some of the Town’s offices into the main level of the municipal building which was left vacant two years ago with the library moving to Turner Valley.
“Over the last few years we noticed there is potential for more room,” she said. “Nothing in it is being used right now.”
Brown said the building must be assessed before any plans are made.
“We have to look at the integrity of the building and see if we have to look at new building,” she said.
Another project on the priority list is paving First Street East as part of the Town’s ongoing initiative to pave one street in town per year.
Brown said the deadline for the Town’s committees and departments to submit their reports was the end of September, giving administration four or five months to put the numbers together and present it to council, which she expects to take place in February and March.
“Our budget process won’t be completed until we get the assessments in,” she said. “When the assessments come in we look at how much money we have based on our tax assessments, grants coming in and then we can finalize the budget figures. It’s all going to depend on the cost of operations and what we are going to focus on in 2013.”
Although council has not yet looked at the reports, she said the Town won’t see much of an increase in its own expenses this year over last year.
“Everything looks about the same,” she said. “The numbers will be very similar to what they were in 2012.”
Like all municipalities, Black Diamond will face an increase in utilities and operation costs that are unavoidable, but she said council is prepared.
“There is no flexibility with that,” she said. “We forecast a 10 per cent buffer for that.”