Blackfalds Town council has approved the 2015 budget with a capital budget of $1.85 million and an operating budget of $22.4 million.
“The capital budget is quite low compared to some of our past budget numbers and that is because we’ve done a lot of municipal upgrades in the last five years including the RCMP Protective Services building and the Abbey Centre,” said Mayor Melodie Stol.
“This year is more of a simpler budget but we are going to add equipment to maintain a service level pertaining to infrastructure. As we grow, we’re adding more roads and alleys and we need to be able to service those.”
Stol said as the Town looks forward, they are emphasizing putting money into reserves, as there are a few major projects in the works over the next five years. Those projects include upgrades to address the stormwater drainage plan and the regional sewer line and wastewater treatment plan.
The Town is also going to replace and improve two existing playgrounds and add another park, as well as performing some trail system expansion projects.
“Blackfalds is successful in conducting and implementing community needs assessments. The upgrades to our arena in 2004, upgrades to our library in 2006 and the Abbey Centre are all projects that came from a community needs assessment,” said Stol.
As Blackfalds continues its rapid growth rate, Stol said the Town has taken into consideration the need to create a few more jobs within the Town administration and governance.
Those positions will include a parks and recreation official and two administrative positions for the Town to manage the growth.
Stol said one of the other positions that will be added lies within the Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) facility. According to Stol, the Alberta government has not increased their funding to local FCSS services so the Town has had to increase their funding from 20% of the program costs to 55%.
“There is an ever-growing need for us to expand the services offered by FCSS and there are simply not enough funds to meet that growth,” she said.
“There are so many programs and services we are interested in bringing to our community. We add more money to FCSS services each year, but the province is not keeping up its pay. Originally, our contract said that the provincial government would pay 80 per cent, and we would contribute 20 per cent. We’re paying 55 per cent.”
Stol said this is a cause for concern as the Town’s growth is creating a higher need for support programs. More funding will be given from the Town to FCSS programs in 2015, she said.