With about two weeks to approve a budget, the Town of Kensington is continuing its discussions on spending with the release of council’s draft financial plan.
At the regular council meeting Monday, councillors, town staff and members of the public were able to view the draft budget proposal – for April 2019 until March 2020 – as well as the newly mandated five-year financial plan.
“For 2019/2020 we’re looking at $2,353,204 as our total revenue from all sources. For total expenditures we’re looking at about $2,351,783,” said Mayor Rowan Caseley.
“There are no major changes. Compared to last year, it’s a very status quo budget, with exception to electricity rates and wages in the town because of expected increases.”
Looking at the draft, Caseley said property taxes are not going to be increased and per status-quo the mayor and council’s honorariums will be dictated by inflation rates on values set in 2009.
“We’re expecting a balanced budget since we haven’t planned for a deficit. I feel good about the budget. It’s realistic. It’s achievable. It will give us the opportunity to improve things in the town,” said Caseley.
Chief Administrative officer Geoff Baker stressed the draft budget was a living document and could be changed at any time.
If council feels at one time ‘oh I don’t think we should replace the matting in the FitPlex this summer’ then they have the ability to adjust where the money is spent, said Baker.
Budget discussions are expected to continue at the next committee of council meeting on March 25 at 6:30 p.m.
Expected heating costs see hike
In the 2019/2020 draft budget, council and staff are expecting to spend several thousand dollars more on heating oil.
For town hall expenditures heating cost estimates were raised by $7,050 from $12,100 in the 2018 budget to $19,150 for this year’s budget. Caseley said this was because in past years meeting the budget had not happened. According to the 2018 actual expenditures, by Dec. 31, it cost $18,500 for heating oil.
Fire department expenditures see increase
The budgeted expenditures for the Kensington Volunteer Fire Department have increased for the 2019/2020 budget year.
Kensington Mayor Rowan Caseley said some of the increase was because of heating oil expenditures as well as the increase in honorariums and the expected expenditures for equipment, uniforms and supplies.
Last year, the town budgeted $12,000 for uniforms, equipment and other supplies but the department went over that budget by almost $7,000 by Dec. 31.
Caseley said a handful of sets of bunker gear had to be replaced, adding to the overspending.
Five-year plan ‘a living document’
With the new legislation of the provincial Municipal Government Act, the Town of Kensington is looking long-term at their capital expenditures until 2024.
While discussing the document, Coun. Jeff Spencer asked if council were to approve the capital plan, would that mean they were tied to completing the items on there without ability to change it?
Similar to his answer surrounding the yearly budget, CAO Geoff Baker said the five-year plan was a living document.
“This is the first time we’ve done this. I would have preferred our strategic plan was completed and that our asset management plan was completed. But I except that we will see a much more refined document as we move forward with this plan.”