Sparwood mayor David Wilks was in attendance at the street party to discuss potential changes to Centennial Square.

Guest Column: Sparwood Mayor David Wilks on the municipal budget

Currently municipalities throughout the Province are starting their budget process. Budgets are being developed not only for 2021, but also into the future as five year and 20 year budgets are simultaneously being drafted. Developing and approving the budget is one of the most important responsibilities of Mayor’s and Councillor’s, and many factors influence the process.

The District of Sparwood has approximately $84 million dollars of assets which must be managed. That includes infrastructure such as water, sewer and roads. It also includes all buildings and vehicles owned by the District of Sparwood. Most importantly, Mayor and Council determine what projects put forth by staff must move forward, and which projects can be moved to another budget year.

Unlike federal and provincial governments, municipal governments must balance their budget to zero, which normally results in an annual tax increase. If you do not increase taxes, then you must find something to cut back on, as costs generally increase each year.

Fortunately for the District of Sparwood, we have healthy reserve funds, so we can do things that other communities may not be able to do. But, we cannot be lulled into a false sense of security. That is why all projects that the District of Sparwood plan for are done with a wide lens. Mayor and Council must look at all possible options because it is your money we are spending.

Mayor and Council rely on staff, consultants and industry standards to determine costing and processes for multi-year projects. Based on project priorities and the significant investment that we currently have in development projects, future adjustments to the budget are expected.

For the 2021-2025 Financial Plan, Mayor and Council along with staff started the process in October 2020. Between then and April 2021, we will hold public input sessions planned for Spring 2021 (subject to COVID-19) and five further meetings with staff, all of which are open to the public. These meetings are either Regular Council Meetings or Committee of the Whole Meetings.

Mayor and Council encourage the public to get involved in the budget process. It is your money we are spending, and it is you we want to hear from. The future looks very bright for the District of Sparwood and we are excited to move forward with the many projects that will benefit the community now and into the future.

-David Wilks

Mayor District of Sparwood

Municipal Government

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