Budget discussions begin at council

Hay River’s Town Council began budget discussions Monday evening at the first Regular Council Meeting of 2011.
Council hear a brief overview from the director of Public Works, Mike Richardson, Fire Chief Ross Potter and director of Recreation, Ross deBoer.
They reported on the major discrepancies between the 2010 and 2011 budgets, and then opened up the floor to any questions or clarifications Council requested.

DeBoer spoke to trail maintenance, which he said has “increased substantially” for this year’s budget, due to the plans to connect the trail system between Old Town and New Town.
He also said that the largest single change in the budget is likely coming from programming. Recreation programmer Tammy Buchanan has been running a variety of programs for the Town, but in turn is increasing revenue for the department by applying for various grants, including the NWT Get Active grant which Hay River recently received funding from.
He budgeted that area at $81,000.
Potter spoke to the budget of the Hay River Fire Department, presenting a long list that seemed to surprise some members of council.
“This year’s budget reflects a major change in the fire chief’s wages,” said Potter.
This year marked the first time the department has had a full-time paid fire chief, adding costs to the department’s spending.
Potter added that advertising for fire prevention has increased, and that a large amount of training in the near future is adding to costs as well.
Potter plans on taking a more aggressive approach on preventative maintenance on the equipment which also adds costs.
But he said that while all these things cost more presently, with his proposal to increase ambulance fees and add in fire service fees, a portion of the money spent will be regained by the Town.
Richardson addressed the Public Works’ accounts during the final segment of the evening, where he spoke of several numbers in the 2010 budget he found to be concerning.
He mentioned that the demolition of the old day school accounted for $90,503 of un-budgeted expenditure.
Councillor Ken Latour raised concerns over the fact $8,000 was allotted last year for the town garage’s maintenance, but $57,000 is budgeted this year. Richardson said there are lots of upgrades to be made to the structure, including paint, fencing and eavestrough additions.
Council agreed to adjourn, and was scheduled to continue budget discussions on Tuesday night.