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Schreiber Council Having to Prioritize Issues Because of Budget Restrictions.
Schreiber held another Special council meeting this week ahead of the first scheduled Meeting of the month. 'Other business' was the main issue with a discussion on the preliminary budget report. With so many projects in the pipeline this year, there have been many meetings held in order to prioritize items and finalize costs related to these projects.
Maintenance costs are becoming a major concern due to aging infrastructure and Schreiber must find capital to complete the work that is needed. Budget meetings help to identify where money might come from and what is currently available. Water and sewage upgrades are mandatory and funding from reserves will play a part in how these upgrades are financed.
Recreation spending, in particular the arena, is another area where ongoing maintenance is required. Extending the life of this facility is only possible through ongoing spending. In a small town the operational costs of the municipal complex are a large expense and with a small population, the cost per household can be quite high. An information video preceded the discussion as a means to emphasize the importance of keeping the facility in proper operating condition as there can disastrous health hazards when there is negligence.
Councillor McGrath suggested that a list of priorities and associated costs would be helpful in order to keep the budget focused for the next few years. A discussion about how much might be covered through grants for repairs ensued. In some cases, where multiple repairs are necessary, the town can only apply for 1 grant for 1 issue at a time. Overruns and extra costs must be covered by the town and there is limited money available in reserves for those costs. It was also noted that taking money from reserves might have a detrimental affect on any future work that those reserves were established for in the first place. Maintaining reserves is also important to credit ratings as borrowing gets more difficult if negligence is found in mismanaging funds.
As there are many projects that are needed in Schreiber, the risks of improper prioritizing falls on the heads of council and their decisions. The seriousness of the decisions could be measured by the moments of quiet during the discussion. The reality, in many ways, is facing the importance of some services such as an arena, when money is limited to support such a venue without increases in taxes. The arena is historically a big part of Schreiber’s culture but with a shrinking population it is becoming harder to justify it’s ongoing existence when comparing its running costs to other services such as sewer and water and ongoing maintenance costs. A funding application proposal will be submitted at the next meeting.
The meeting schedule for the next month was approved with some reshuffling involved and then the meeting was adjourned.
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